A Reverie About the Short Story Market in the 1880s

Arthur Conan Doyle sold one of his early stories, “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement,” to Cornhill Magazine for twenty-nine guineas — enough to pay most of Conan Doyle’s rent for the year, according to Russell Miller’s recent biography.

This somewhat distracted adventure tale, influenced by Poe and Stevenson, features a series of ghastly maritime disasters, a negro supervillain, and a “powerful talisman which appeals to the whole dark race.”

One short story sale to a magazine. Most of his rent for that year. Those were the days. Miller adds that Conan Doyle’s subsequent submissions to Cornhill, including the first Sherlock Holmes story, were all summarily rejected — so not everything has changed.
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