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This short novel, published in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94), may well be more familiar in its many stage, film and television adaptations than in its original form, while 'Jekyll and Hyde' has become the shorthand for a character who seems to have a 'split personality'. Stevenson claimed that the main features of the story came to him in a dream, and he wrote it very rapidly, though ill and bedridden at the time. Priced at one shilling (the genre of macabre and horror stories was known as the 'shilling shocker'), it was an immediate success. Though not the first of Stevenson's works to explore the notion of the divided self, in a period where increasing concern was felt about the possible negative sides of discoveries in both the physical and biological sciences, the story clearly struck a chord, and it has remained popular ever since.
This collection of literary essays by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) explores the lives and works of nine writers from around the world and across the centuries, including Victor Hugo, Robert Burns, Walt Whitman and Samuel Pepys. Published together in 1882, the studies here had previously appeared in periodicals, chiefly the Cornhill Magazine, and are known for their conversational style and unusual combination of character assessment and scholarly critique. In his preface, Stevenson describes the book as 'the readings of a literary vagrant', emphasising that the essays were inspired by a genuine personal interest in the authors and their works. Over the course of his own career as a writer, Stevenson published in a wide range of literary forms and genres. Today this collection reveals much about the diversity of his influences and tastes, as well as offering an insight into his moral and aesthetic values.