A.P. WATT & SON, literary agents
Sir Arthur CONAN DOYLE. Correspondence with his literary agent, comprising:
Sixty-five autograph letters signed by Conan Doyle, to A.P., A.H. or A.S. Watt, 12 Tennison Road, South Norwood, Undershaw, Windlesham, 15 Buckingham Palace Mansions and elsewhere, 1892-1930 and n.d., 72 pages, 4to and 8vo; with 2 typed letters signed and four autograph postcards.
Also: fifty-seven letters in the hand of Major Alfred Wood and signed by him 'A. Conan Doyle', 6 signed by Wood and twenty-four in other secretarial hands; in all 158 letters or cards, 166 pages, 4to and 8vo, the majority docketed in pencil on versos.
Conan Doyle began his long association with the firm of A. P. Watt, literary agents, in 1891. Watt sent a copy of Conan Doyle's story 'The Voice of Science' to the editor of The Strand Magazine before the magazine had appeared for the first time. The story was accepted for publication and appeared in March 1891. In the following month Watt sent his 'A Scandal in Bohemia' which was published in July (the first story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1892). Thereafter Watt played a considerable role in the furtherance of Sherlock Holmes in the popular imagination. Conan Doyle described A.P. Watt as 'that king of agents ... who relieved me of all the hateful bargaining', Memories and Adventures, p. 96).
The correspondence relates to all aspects of Conan Doyle's literary career -- principally negotiations with publishers and editors over rights and remuneration. Watt also handled matters relating to theatrical and, later, film rights on Conan Doyle's behalf. In one letter Conan Doyle writes to Watt, 'I am always content with the prices you get', and when he went to Australia in 1920, Conan Doyle gave Watt complete discretion over his literary affairs.
In 1891 Conan Doyle writes, 'The Holmes business seems quite in order now. I hope to have handed in most of the Stories before October ... I agree about "Raffles Haw" - better leave it? In the following year Conan Doyle reproves Watt, '"The Great Shadow" is in my best style and "Beyond the City" is not. To link them together is incongruous ... to allow the weaker to go first and give the title is intolerable."
In 1902 Conan Doyle suggests 'I should be glad ... if you would ask McClure to kindly deduct the loss which he has suffered [from The Green Flag] from the considerable cheque which is due to us on the "Hound [of the Baskervilles]". In the following year, 'I have a sharp political campaign in front of me ... I may sell McClure one simple Holmes story ... which I will keep in my own hands. What about Appleton's Collected Edition? What slugs they are! I think £25 a record price for Italian rights ...'.
Not all Conan Doyle's efforts were successful. In 1912 he writes, 'I dropped £2000 over the drama. I'm ready for any compromise ... Offer him £100', and his work was always at risk from literary pirates, 'No, I never sold any "Hound" rights but possibly the French people may have taken advantage of the old agreement to do so. If not it is a clear piracy.'
In 1917 he announces 'I have finished the Holmes Story ... "His Last Bow" the name. It is a war story.'
The correspondence of the 1920s reveals much detail about the sale of the dramatic and cinematic rights of the Sherlock Holmes stories and the Fires of Fate.
also: four typed letters (two incomplete), A. P. Watt to Conan Doyle, 1916-1928, concerning the publication of a cheap edition of The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 9 pages, 4to and two estimates; letters concerning the publication of Conan Doyle's works including typed letter signed by Grant Richards relating to subscriptions for A Duet with an Occasional Chorus, 1899; miscellaneous statements of account with Longmans Green, Chatto and Windus and A.P. Watt (12), account of the printing of The Truth about Oscar Slater, 1927, and five other items. (158)