Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells the story of a doctor who has worked to hide a secret life filled with immoral deeds. The classic tale outlines mankind’s dual nature (good and evil), and Jekyll is constantly battling within himself between what is right and good, versus the suppressed dark side of his being. After drinking a concoction he cooked up in his laboratory, Jekyll intermittently transforms into the evil Edward Hyde, and begins to take to the night, perpetrating despicable acts. Eventually, Mr. Hyde’s evil tendencies begin to dominate, and he is no longer dependent on the kindly Dr. Jekyll to drink his potion, thus unleashing his inner demon.
In reality, less than two decades after the publication of Stevenson’s novella, a real Mr. Hyde–Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde–began using tools of his profession as a doctor to cause the premature deaths of those in the family he had married into. Hyde had eloped with young Frances Swope, whose uncle was Kansas City millionaire Col. Thomas Swope. Trusting their gut, the Swope family had strongly opposed the marriage, believing that Hyde only wanted to marry into money. Had they only known to what extremes the mad doctor would go, extremes that included murder by bleeding and poisoning, he might have been shot before he walked down the aisle.
Crime historian Dan Norder has written an interesting history of the real Mr. Hyde, which can be read by following the link below: