'Be short, be simple, be human.'
When Sir Ernest Gowers first wrote Plain Words, it was intended simply as a guide to the proper use of English for the Civil Service. Within a year, however, its humour, charm and authority had made it a bestseller. Since then it has never been out of print.
Six decades on, writer Rebecca Gowers has created a new edition of this now-classic work that both revises and celebrates her great-grandfather's original. Plain Words has been updated to reflect numerous changes in English usage, yet Sir Ernest's distinctive, witty voice is undimmed. And his message remains vital: our writing should be as clear and comprehensible as possible, avoiding superfluous words and clichés - from the jargon of 'commercialese' to the murky euphemisms of politicians.
In a new preface, this edition draws on an extensive private archive, previously hidden away in family cupboards and attics, to tell the story behind a book that has become an institution: the essential guide to making yourself understood.
Sir Ernest Gowers was born in 1880, and became a leading civil servant. He ran the civil defence of London during the Second World War, chaired the Royal Commission into Capital Punishment whose 1953 report contributed significantly to ending the death penalty in Britain, wrote the bestseller, Plain Words, and later became the first editor of H. W. Fowler's classic Dictionary of Modern English Usage.
Rebecca Gowers studied English at Oxford and Cambridge. She is the author of The Swamp of Death, shortlisted for the CWA nonfiction Golden Dagger Award, and of two novels, When to Walk and The Twisted Heart, both longlisted for the Orange Prize.