Laurence Olivier reads RL Stevenson

“I don’t believe that there was ever such a literary feat before as the writing of Dr Jekyll. I remember the first reading as though it were yesterday. Louis came downstairs in a fever; read nearly half the book aloud; and then, while we were still gasping, he was away again, and busy writing. I doubt if the first draft took so long as three days.” — Lloyd Osbourne, Stevenson’s stepson

As well as being one of our most famous actors, Sir Laurence Olivier was also a former Fitzrovia resident. He attended a church choir school in Margaret Street. Just a few days before World Voice Day, hear his unmistakable voice read Robert Louis Stevenson’s ever dark story The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

This shocking story

This strange tale of multiple personalities has become part of our terminology and embedded in our national folklore. Most people understand the concept of the doctor and his alter ego but how many of us have heard the original story?

The process of writing the story has itself seeped into frantic legend. It is said that Stevenson was inspired by his friendship with an  Edinburgh-based French teacher who murdered his wife. He seemed to lead a normal life but was executed for poisoning her with opium. Another part of the book’s legend has Stevenson burning the first manuscript and then speedily rewriting it on cocaine.

The event details

Come listen to this dark tale in the ambient and soothing light of the chapel. We offer a chance to relax, listen and a blanket to dispel the chill of the story. It’s at 13:00 on Friday 13 April. Part of our Wireless Contemplation and Lineage series of events, it is free and open to everyone. Please just turn up. There is no need to book.

Next Wireless Contemplation dates

Friday 18 May, 13:00,  Doris Lessing
Friday 28 June, 13:00, George Orwell
Friday 20 July, 13:00, Peter Sellers
Friday 24 August, 13:00, Churchill’s speeches
Friday 14 September, 13:00, Daphne du Maurier
Friday 12 October, 13:00, ER Braithwaite’s To Sir With Love
There won’t be a Wireless Contemplation event in November
Friday 14 December, 13:00, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Tree