No not me, not you, but a long-dead hero. For today is RLS Day.
I’ve been listening lately to various wireless presentations on a certain Dr Jekyll, and from them I’ve had to change my longstanding pronunciation from ‘Jeck’ to ‘Jeek’. Hunting Mr Hyde was excellent, with Louise Welsh delving into the background and the times of the day.
Then there was a modern adaptation, basing in current times a similar tale. Yes, Radio Scotland can do some good things these days, but lets not dwell on the BBC at the moment. Back in August Radio 4 gave us The Amateur Emigrant, the tale of Stevenson’s impoverished voyage to New York and trail across the States to San Francisco to wait and finally wed his Fanny, as fresh a story today as it was in the 19th century.
It’s all quite remarkable for a man who died nearly 120 years ago. There’s a couple of fine articles to be read today. The RLS website has events on – sadly I can’t make yet another trip through to Edinburgh tonight. And over at Bella there’s a fine essay that Kevin Williamson penned a dozen years ago, looking at his life and the role of cocaine and other substances.
I’m minded of a terrific recent work on the life of RLS, focussing on his early years in Edinburgh. Lamplit Vicious Fairy Land is available only as a download from the RLS website, though, sad as I am, I have it printed here in the old fashioned way. It’s a trip to the grime of the capital, to the dens of the old town from Jock’s Lodge and beyond.
And I think I’ll celebrate the anniversary by bringing the tale Jekyll and Hyde back to the bedside table. In fact I don’t think I’ve read it in adult life. I may give you my thoughts in a few weeks.
Quality will always stand the test of time, and at times the author and his or her life may be as important as the written works themselves. Which is perhaps why I was delighted to receive this link from the Queen of Hearts recently http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-20204217 – it made me smile.
Happy birthday Louis, still bringing pleasure to millions