Sherlock Holmes and the price of "Silver Blaze"

I recently started rereading the Sherlock Holmes stories, and this inspired me to also reread Dex’s terrific article on Holmes. In rereading the article, I noticed something that seemed at odds with the editor’s introduction to my copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Dex says:

My Oxford University Press “World’s Classics” edition of Memoirs says on page xiv:

(bolding mine)

It seems to me that Dex must have mis-read his source, and Doyle was actually paid 1000 pounds for the entire series of twelve stories which began with “Silver Blaze.”

Check it out if you can Dex, and let me commend you again on your great article.

I think you’re correct in your interpretation.

John Dickson Carr’s The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quotes a letter from Doyle to his mother:

No British magazine of the day could possibly afford the equivalent of $5,000 per story, even for Sherlock Holmes.

Hm. I seem to have misread “for the stories” as meaning “for each story.” Y’all are correct, and I’ll have the Staff Report amended. Thanks for the correction, and thanks for the kind words, Loopus!

Dex, while you’re changing the column, you may want to change this sentence:

Or did you mean, for some reason (a joke perhaps?), to imply that Flashman was non-fictional? (If you were under the impression that Harry was a real person, I’m sorry disillusioned you.)

Bear in mind that the £1,000 for 12 stories was just for the British serial rights. He also received payment for American serial rights as well as payment and royalties for US and UK book rights. (At least I think Newnes, who published The Strand Magazine, as well as the first UK editions of the books, had to pay additional fees for the books.) Add to this money received for play rights and early film rights and it is easy to see how Conan Doyle was one of the highest paid authors of his time. I always see him credited with being the highest paid writer in the world, but have never seen verifiable confirmation. It could be difficult to prove.

Dex’s Holmes article is what got me hooked on SDMB. Dex, you still hold top rank with godlike powers, second only to Cecil himself, in my universe (and in the universes of many others), although Una Persson is rapidly gaining on you with her spate of incredible articles.

WHAT??? Sacriligious nonsense, if not actionable heresy. Yes, of course, it’s a joke. I couldn’t resist.

Mycroft, thanks for the kind words. Wow! I don’t think I’ll amend the Report to cover the point you make, since the purpose of that sentence was not how much he earned, but how much it grew – from £25 for the first novel, to £1000 for a sequence of 12 stories.

Most welcome Good Sir. No, I did not mean to suggest that you include the information I wrote about. It gets too complicated and the effect is well illustrated by the £25-for-one to £1,000-for-twelve example you are using.

I know some people trying to get a handle on the actual earnings for various stories over the various years, but they get bogged down by murky details and big gaps in information. The recent sale of many long-hidden Doyle archives at Christie’s in May has released more information that Sherlockians are trying to digest. Among the items, I think, was a ledger of some of Doyle’s earnings for stories. Quite interesting to those of us fanatically into that sort of thing. (When does a hobby change to an obsession or even an affliction? Never mind, I think I know.)