Before he created the most illustrious residents of Baker Street—whom he nearly called J. Sherrinford Holmes and Ormond Sacker—Arthur Conan Doyle had already written a novel that was lost in the mail, and contributed excellent short fiction to various magazines. “The Captain of the Pole-Star” (1883), set in the Arctic, is one of the most haunting Victorian tales of the supernatural. But the young writer could hardly think of quitting his day job as a doctor in Southsea. A Study in Scarlet was turned down by one publisher after another, until it was finally accepted by Ward, Lock, and Co., who offered to buy the British copyright for a derisory twenty-five pounds.
Michael Dirda describes Conan Doyle’s desire to write better work than his Sherlockian mysteries and what kept him writing them. (via Prufrock)