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.

2 thoughts on “A Reverie About the Short Story Market in the 1880s”

  1. also interesting how the writers used to publish themselves in their own magazines. i wonder when this became the ‘not really ethical’ thing to do?

  2. Google “British literary magazines,” and you’ll mostly find articles about the Romantic era, the Victorians and Edwardians… where are the contemporary British literary magazines?

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