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"Three Editors"
Shorter as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, December 1894

Clement King Shorter (19 July 1857 – 19 November 1926) was a British journalist and literary critic.


Clement Shorter was born on 19 July 1857 at Southwark, in London, the youngest of three boys.[1] The son of Richard and Elizabeth (née Clemenson) Shorter, young Clement attended school from 1863 to 1871 in Downham Market, Norfolk. He was still quite young when his father died in Melbourne, Australia, where he had gone in an attempt to make a better life for his young family.[2]

Once finished with his schooling, Shorter spent four years working for several booksellers and publishers on Paternoster Row in London. In 1877, he found himself working in the Exchequer and Audit Department at Somerset House, as a low-level clerk.[2]

Shorter married twice, first to Dora Sigerson, an Irish poet. He married her in 1896, and she died in 1918. In 1920, he remarried, to a woman from Penzance, named Annie Doris Banfield. Shorter, survived by his wife and daughter, died on 19 November 1926, in his home at Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.[2]


In journalismEdit

Shorter's career in journalism began in 1888, when he began working as a sub-editor for the Penny Illustrated Paper. At that time, he was also writing for The Star, a weekly column about books. By 1890, he had resigned his clerical position at Somerset House, to focus solely on his journalistic endeavours.[2]

An important influence on the English pictorial press, in 1891 he became editor of the Illustrated London News. By 1893, he had founded and edited Sketch. In 1900, he founded Sphere, which he edited up until his death in 1926.[3] During this time, Shorter maintained writing his controversial weekly column, "A Literary Letter." He described the content of the two papers he edited during this time (first, The Sphere, and shortly thereafter, The Tatler) as "on more frivolous lines."[2]

In addition to founding Sketch and The Sphere, he was also the founder of The Tatler.[2]

As an author, literary critic, and collectorEdit

It is difficult to separate Shorter's career as an author and critic from his hobby of collecting manuscripts, books, and other materials related to his favorite authors. He was an avid collector, particularly focusing on the works of the Brontë sisters. This collecting and research eventually led to some of his most well-known works, including two books about Charlotte Brontë, and two books about the Brontë family.[2] He is to thank for the release of The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë (1908), by Emily Brontë, edited by Clement King Shorter, as over 40 years after Emily's death, Charlotte's husband Arthur Bell Nicholls lent to Shorter Charlotte's notebook with permission to publish "71 poems of Emily's previously unpublished" which Shorter published through Hodder and Stoughton along with all of the poems which were published in 1846, 1850 and 1902.[4] Shorter was dissatisfied with this volume because of his noting that indeed some of the poems in this notebook must be attributed to Emily's siblings and in 1919 he expressed his wish to C.W. Hatfield that he also study the original manuscripts and prepare a new volume of poems satisfied that Emily's works are isolated from her siblings'. Hatfield acquired more source material and isolated Emily's poems and arranged one publishing of his collection in 1923 and with a further 20 years of study again in 1941 with what is regarded as the definitive poetic works of Emily Brontë.[5] Shorter additionally edited Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë in 1899.[2] Shorter's own works of literary criticism include The Brontës and their Circle (1896), Immortal Memories (1907), The Brontës: Life and Letters (1908), and George Borrow and his Circle (1913).[3][6]

Shorter also wrote multiple books about Napoleon, two about George Borrow, as well as a volume of addresses and essays. His last published work was C. K. S.: an Autobiography, which was edited by J.M. Bulloch, and published posthumously, in 1927.[2]


  1. ^ Shorter, Aylward (2003). The Shorter Family. Bowie: Heritage Books. ISBN 0-7884-2293-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Biographical Note", in the Clement King Shorter Papers. Housed at the University of Delaware Library.
  3. ^ a b Shorter bio at
  4. ^ Brontë, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë, edited by Clement King Shorter. Hodder and Stoughton, 1908, bibliographical note by Clement King Shorter.
  5. ^ Brontë, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë, edited by C.W. Hatfield. Columbia University Press, 1941,1995 p. 5-7 & back cover.
  6. ^ "Review of George Borrow and his Circle by Clement King Shorter". The Athenaeum (4490): 550–551. 15 November 1913.

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