In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote what seemed an uncharacteristic book, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde
. That the writer of Treasure Island
(1883) and A Child's Garden of Verses
(1885) would explore the power of addiction and expose the monsters that dwell in us all was disconcerting to Victorian society. There have been many conjectures on the origin of this book, but the primary source for the inner struggle with substances that release the inner demon was Stevenson's own life. As a sickly child plagued with lung disease, Stevenson was treated with morphine and later added alcohol and cocaine to a potent cocktail to which he became dependent on and off for the rest of his life - at one time he remarked, "Wine is bottled poetry." His marriage in 1880 to Fanny Osborne, an American divorcee nine years his senior, exacerbated his condition as she willingly joined...
Beyond the Book
The list is long: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Marcel Proust, Charles Baudelaire, Jack London, F Scott Fitzgerald, Philip K. Dick, Edna St. Vincent Millay, O. Henry, William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, Dorothy Parker, Tennessee Williams…and many more. American writers Eugene O'Neill, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner were alcoholics who won Nobel Prizes in literature. In some minds, alcohol and drug addictions have become synonymous with famous writers and other artists. This raises the age-old questions about whether intoxicants enhance one's creativity...