The Council of the Society of Authors was established by the founders' sub-committee in 1884. The first Council, chaired by Walter Besant, comprised eighteen people and met eight times between 18 February and 26 May 1884 to lay the foundations of the Society's structure. This Council established the Committee of Management to handle the regular running of the Society.

Within the first few years of the Society's existence, the Council's remit and scope was adjusted. Vice-Presidents were no longer appointed and the Council was expanded to a maximum of 60 members, all of whom had to be shareholders.

Until 1907, the Committee of Management only recruited from the Council.