Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Successful Literary Dinner- Lippincott's Magazine, Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde

Many major literary works have had their genesis in magazines. Among the most important occurred by virtue of a literary dinner at the Langham Hotel in London in late Summer 1889 between a literary agent, J.M. Stoddart, representing the editors of Lippincott's Magazine, and the esteemed authors, Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde.

The young writers engaged in mutual flattery. They also discussed such topics as future wars and what Doyle later called ''the cynical maxim that the good fortune of our friends made us discontented.'' By the end of the meal Stoddart had accomplished what he had traveled all the way from Philadelphia for: commitments from Doyle and Wilde that each would write a short novel for Lippincott's. As a result, Wilde produced ''The Picture of Dorian Gray'' and Doyle the second appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, in ''The Sign of Four.''
These appearances are probably the true first editions and since they were published in their entirety are quite valuable and highly sought. One dealer currently lists the Wilde issue for sale at $12,500. The Doyle issue is even more highly sought.

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