Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 5 September 2009

Your problems solved

Q. My daughter will be studying Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for English GCSE and my wife and I are at daggers drawn. I say that Jekyll should be pronounced ‘Jeekill’, as in Gertrude. My wife says that this is pretentious and we should stick to ‘Jeckill’, as in Hollywood. Please advise.

A.D., Faringdon, Oxfordshire

A. According to the Jekyll family, of whom there are not that many members, the correct pronunciation is ‘Jeekill’. Since Robert Louis Stevenson actually met Gertrude’s brother, Walter, when the latter was a priest in Bournemouth, it is likely that this was the pronunciation he had in mind when writing. Say Jeekill if you like, therefore, but your daughter would do better to use the same pronunciation as the person who is teaching her English class.

Q. I happen to have insider knowledge that a neighbour (and friend of mine) is about to have a vacancy on his staff which would suit my brother-in-law admirably. The two have never met but, although I could arrange a dinner to effect such a meeting, I think it would be a mistake. My table only seats eight and they have nothing in common (other than the potential to work well together) so it would be too obvious that I was touting for work for my brother-in-law and I would not want my neighbour to feel ambushed by me. What do you recommend, Mary?

Name and address withheld

A. Have a drinks party. Arrange that someone other than yourself introduces the pair. Even though they may only talk for three minutes that would be sufficient, as it is with speed dating.

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