The story goes that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this novel in just two days, whilst sick with a fever. His wife, who was nursing him, read the completed manuscript and deciding it was rubbish - the deranged ramblings of a very ill man - she threw it onto the fire. Not to be deterred, her husband simply rewrote this story - in another two days.
We may be glad of Robert Louis Stevenson's perseverance, as this is a truly astounding novel. At the time it was first published, it was a shocking tale, but whilst modern readers will be familiar with the Jekyll and Hyde concept, they may still be captivated by the quality of the writing and the true horror drawn out in the author's words, which have a sinister quality that the countless film and television versions and variations over the years have failed to match.
This isn't just a horror story - it's a book about appearance and reality, and about our notions of who we are and how we are viewed by others. That's not to mention that old chestnut of good versus evil - but here, played out in two sides of the same person. Stevenson's fascinating ideas are brilliantly executed in this little masterpiece of a novel.