A journalist and editor, Clement King Shorter began his career as a sub-editor for The Penny Illustrated Paper and columnist for The Star whilst working as a clerk in the Exchequer and Audit Department at Somerset House. In 1891, following the retirement of the editor of The Illustrated London News, John Lash Latey, Shorter offered himself to the director, William Ingram, for the role and was accepted. Together with Ingram, he founded and became editor of The Sketch in 1892 and, following its acquisition by Ingram in 1893, editor of The English Illustrated Magazine. In the years following his appearance in Vanity Fair, he would become founder and editor of The Sphere (1900) and Tatler (1901).
“Born in London, he was sent to school at Downham Market in Norfolk, where they whipped into him the elements of grammar. Then he wasted a year or two variously (the only wasted years of his life), tired of it, and went to Somerset House as a Civil Service clerk in the Exchequer and Audit Department. He thinks that he made a bad Clerk; but in the course of seven years he acquired a knowledge of figures that made him quite a Man of Letters; which he showed by writing. He edited a selection of Wordsworth's Poems, and he wrote a biography of Charlotte Brontë. He further improved the public time and his own fortunes by writing of literature in The Star when it first began to shine under Mr. T. P. O'Connor; and Mr. H. W. Massingham (who knew him from his Norfolk days), invited him to join the staff: which he did as the inconsequent scribbler of ‘Books and Bookmen.’ Then other Editors asked him for work, till he was doing more outside Somerset House than he ever did in it. Presently he heard that Mr. Latey was retiring from the editorship of The Illustrated London News, and being a man who believes in not missing chances he forthwith called upon Mr. William Ingram and offered to take the vacant chair; and Mr. Ingram was too amazed at his impudence to decline the offer. That was four years ago, and since then Mr. William Ingram has become Sir William, and Mr. Shorter has become three Editors at once. For two years back the pair evolved The Sketch, of which the very successful idea was the definite application of photography to journalism; and that bold venture (which paid within a year) made him a second Editor, whose staircase has since been almost daily thronged by ‘ladies of the profession.’ Finally, when Sir William Ingram bought The English Illustrated Magazine, he naturally became a third Editor; so that he is now responsible for three illustrated periodicals, each one of which would be enough to satisfy the industry of a bigger man.
He is instance of the born Editor; for he never learned his business, yet gets through it most competently. He is an active fellow who grapples with much work quickly, yet refrains from offending people, even when he is most busy; for like most very busy men he can always find five minutes to spare. He has travelled a good deal - westerly to Chicago, easterly to Rumania and elsewhere; and when he travels he sees things. He has made many friends and a few enemies; and it is said of him that he is only disliked by those who are jealous of him because he has no business to be three Editors in one.
He is a good-natured, genial, friendly person; who is still full of projects.”