Robert Wilson, who edited this magazine for more than 17 years, retired a few months ago. Anyone who had the great fortune to work for him, be edited by him, or have him as a mentor—I happily qualify on all three counts—knows how irreplaceable he is. Bob has been a dear friend to me for more than a quarter of a century. He assigned me my first freelance article when he was the editor of Preservation magazine, then gave me a job there. In 2011, he hired me again, this time as the Scholar’s managing editor. He has encouraged me, trusted me, nurtured my work. He even recited Yeats at my wedding.
I met Bob in 1996, when I was an intern at Civilization magazine. One day, I was talking to one of the editors there, Adam Goodheart, when I happened to mention my love of Peter Taylor’s fiction. Adam raised an eyebrow and said, “In that case, you have to meet Bob Wilson.” Bob, it turned out, had been a very close friend of Taylor’s, and soon, the three of us—Bob, Adam, and I—were sitting before a fireplace in the bar of a local hotel, having drinks on a winter’s afternoon. Imagine my delight when, a few months later, Bob drove me down to Charlottesville, Virginia, to meet Taylor’s widow, the poet Eleanor Ross Taylor.
I’ve worked with Bob longer than I’ve worked with anyone else. For much of the pandemic, with our offices closed, we made it a point to talk nearly every day, even when an email would do. These are the conversations—about work, yes, but also about books, baseball, and soccer (I think I might well have made a Tottenham Hotspur convert out of him)—that I will sorely miss.
Every time Bob took over a magazine, he brilliantly reinvented it. In my capacity as the Scholar’s interim editor, I wouldn’t dare attempt anything so bold. But you will nevertheless notice some changes, in both the editorial content (see, for example, the section that begins on the opposite page) and the design—I am especially grateful to our art director, David Herbick, for his imagination, vision, and diligence. I confess that I have nervously wondered of late what Bob might think of these changes. After all, I may be old enough not to need Bob’s approval anymore, but I know that I’ll continue to crave it all the same.
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