Very few people realise that the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was based on a true story.

Robert Louis Stevenson based his story on William Brodie, a respected Scottish businessman.

Born in 1741, Brodie was the son of a well-to-do cabinetmaker. He was a city councillor leader of the mason’s guild and yet he had a much darker side. At night, Brodie gambled and thieved.

He began his Hyde-like life at the age of twenty-seven when he robbed a bank for £800. He continued with his crime spree for eighteen years until 1786 when he made a fatal mistake.

Teaming up with three petty thieves, Brodie planned to raid the Scottish Customs and Excise headquarters. A customs official caught them at it and although Brodie escaped, one of his fellow thieves testified against him so as not to be transported.

Brodie was captured in Amsterdam and promptly tried and convicted. The discovery of his black burgling suit and accompanying equipment along with the thief’s testimony was enough to send the cabinetmaker to the gallows in 1788.