W.M.("Bertie") Smyllie was editor of The Irish Times from 1934 until his death in 1954 and remains one of the legendary figures in Irish journalism. Short-sighted, massively overweight, given to wearing a poncho and sombrero, and cycling to work with his typewriter slung over the bars of his bike and a half bottle of Scotch sticking out of his pocket, here was one of the sights of Dublin. He was also an editor of genius. A whole generation of distinguished writers first learned their craft on Smyllie's Irish Times. Brian Inglis, Patrick Campbell, Alec Newman, Jack White and Myles na Gopaleen, whose "Cruiskeen Lawn" was arguably the funniest newspaper column in the world. But if Smyllie had a penchant for developing talent, he was a disaster as a manager. He had no interest in money; he waged a constant war with the paper's advertising and circulation departments and by the end of his editorship, it was clear that the old ways would have to change. "Mr Smyllie, Sir" is a portrait of the last of the great editors in the Victorian style and the collection of eccentrics, odd-bods and occasional geniuses with whom he surrounded himself.
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