This volume is based on Anthony Trollope's experiences as an editor directing St. Paul's Magazine for three years. The theme of these short stories is that an editor can find himself drawn, against his wiser intentions, into human relationships with struggling writers. These stories describe how a hot-tempered with no literary ability, a scholar sunk by marriage to a drunken woman below his class, and an Irish literary 'madman' or fraud all seek to survive on the narrators to give them an opening in their publications. 'Mary Gresley' tells the story of a lovely young girl with literary ambitions but little ability. She took her stories to the Editor, telling him that she needed to support her family with her writing. The Editor attempted to teach her to write, but with not much success. 'The Turkish Bath' is an account of the Editor's visit to a Turkish bath where one Michael Molloy succeeded in convincing him to read one of his useless manuscripts. The best of the stories in Trollope's view was 'The Spotted Dog.' It's a story of Julius Mackenzie, an educated man, unfortunately, married and destroyed by drink, who requested the Editor for work. The book contains several gripping stories about all sorts of people who appeal to editors for publishing their writings.