Beeton’s Christmas Annual : A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. – Book cover art print.
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December 1, 1887 — Samuel Orchart Beeton was a 19th Century English publisher, probably most famous for giving the world Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management.
Beeton published many other titles ; Beeton’s Christmas Annual, was the edition that officially went on sale on December 1st, 1887, that carved a place in literary history for the annual.
For it contained Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story – A Study in Scarlet. Now extremely rare, original editions of this annual are in great demand, one being sold at Sotheby’s in 2007 for $156,000.
Ironically, in 1886, Conan Doyle, wrote to the publisher Ward Lock, who had taken over Beeton’s, asking for a percentage on sales of his story. He had sold the copyright to them for £25.
They replied: “We regret to say that we shall be unable to allow you to retain a percentage on the sale of your work as it might give rise to some confusion.
The tale may have to be inserted together with some other in one of our annuals, therefore we must adhere to our original offer of £25 for the complete copyright.”
Sherlock might have detected some guile there!