New York Post By Todd Venezia November 6, 2016
The inspiration for the legendary villain in the novel “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” was one of author Robert Louis Stevenson’s drinking buddies, who was tried for killing his wife and who liked to serve house guests poisoned cheese toast, according to a report.
A researcher in Edinburgh, Scotland, believes that newly examined notes written by Stevenson indicate that Hyde was based on Eugene Chantrelle, a Frenchman who hung out with the author and who was believed to be a “psychopath,” the Times of London reported.
Chantrelle had gained a reputation as a enjoyable and kind dinner guest who was familiar with the works of literary writers such as Moliere.
However, according to Stephenson’s notes, Chantrelle had a dark side that was evil and fascinating, according to historian Jeremy Hodges.
He was accused of using opium to kill his wife. And Stephenson said prosecutors at his trial also believed Chantrelle fled France after committing a murder and then killed four more people in Scotland by feeding them his “favorite dish of toasted cheese and opium” at dinner parties.
For the author, it was strange to believe the man he had spent hours with talking about literature could commit such horrors.
Hodges found a “fragment” of Stevenson’s writing, buried within a 35-volume 1920s edition of the author’s works that hints at and understanding of the “duality” of the Frenchman he had befriended
“Chantrelle bore upon his brow the most open marks of criminality; or rather, I should say so if I had not met another man who was his exact counterpart in looks, and who was yet, by all that I could learn of him, a model of kindness and good conduct,” Stevenson wrote in the discovered notes, according the Times.
Hodges believes the notes now solve the puzzle behind the darkness in Stevenson’s 1886 book and that his acquaintance with Chantrelle “would remain with him for life . . . most shocking of all was the way in which a monster had been able to deceive everyone.”