John Wesley was his own editor until Thomas Olivers was appointed in 1776 as 'Corrector of the Press'. Outstanding among his successors were Joseph Benson, Jabez Bunting, Thomas Jackson, Benjamin Gregory, John Telford and Leslie F. Church. The office ceased to be full-time in 1971. For some years his principal task was to edit the (<span class="font-italic">Wesleyan</span>) <span class="font-italic">Methodist Magazine</span>, but as publishing expanded so did his duties, until he was an incessant reader of manuscripts, recommender to the Book Committee, corrector of work submitted and writer of editorials. He was in charge of the various connexional periodicals, including magazines for children. His duties were defined in WM in 1904 and again after Methodist Union in 1932. He was responsible for all the publications of the Publishing House, which involved the selection of readers. He was to seek out competent authors, to aim at 'producing books that will appeal to all sections of Methodists and to the public generally', and must write good English himself.
His task was a difficult one, with the chance of errors of judgement, sometimes due to the reports of expert readers. Nineteenth-century editors often feared criticism in Conference. There was often a conflict of interest between works of substance and creativity which might be unprofitable and lightweight material, deplored by some, but which sold well.
Entry written by: GSW
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