The Experiences Of An Editor

I found this little gem from the early 1870s whilst researching the “Friend” 150th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition. Naturally, I was fascinated to read about the experiences of another editor! How would his and my experiences of the role differ?

The person in question wrote that “a good many years ago” he had been promoted from the position of sub to editor of the “Literary Gazette and Magazine”, “a monthly journal of considerable importance”.

At first he enjoyed his new role. “For the first few weeks I was not a little enraptured with my new position – my friends congratulated me, the public dubbed me ‘Mr Editor’.” But oh, dear – the gloss soon wore off!

“Pile upon pile of cramped, crooked, scrawly or quivering manuscript had to be read and considered, and if it had been worth in general one-tenth of the pains I would not have grumbled, but ah, faugh! the remembrance yet is enough to sicken me.”

Who was this unhappy editor?

Goodness – not at all like being the editor of the “Friend” in 2018, then! But who was this unhappy soul?

Another difference between his role and mine is that I have the wonderful resources of the internet at my disposal! An online search quickly suggested the writer’s likely identity.

William Jerden was appointed editor of “The Literary Gazette” in 1817. He wrote most of the content of this influential publication and eventually became the owner. He retired in 1850, and the magazine ceased to be published in 1863.

I hope that he did manage to find some enjoyment in his job! Being an editor is a privilege and a joy. What a shame he didn’t always seem to feel that way.

150th anniversary special collectors editor

You can find more amazing stories from the “Friend” archives in our 150th Anniversary Special, on sale now.


Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Former Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.