Conan Doyle had never given up his writing, but he did not expect it to be more than a sideline. When he outlined his future for his mother, he included among the talk of good hospitals and honorary surgeonships his intention to [supplement my income by literature.] He had been writing an occasional short story and had published about a dozen in journals such as London Society and the Boy's Own Paper, but he did not take them seriously. He dismissed them in Memories and Adventures with the comment, [They served their purpose in relieving me of a little of that financial burden which always pressed upon me.]
Now he found that married life, which provided a sympathetic listener to discuss things with and read aloud to, stimulated his creativity. [My brain seems to have quickened and both my imagination and my range of expression were greatly improved,] he wrote. He began to write stories he was proud of. He drew on his unusual experiences for settings, placing his stories on Arctic whalers and in Africa. His subject matter tended toward the uncanny: ghosts, mummies, and supernatural relics.
His first real success came when [J. Habakuk Jephson's