'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 cliches - 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.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 237 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 18 mm
The great Sir Ernest Gowers ... the grand old boy himself -- Lynne Truss
Itself a model of how plain words should be used * Telegraph *
Rebecca Gowers has been charged with the task of producing a version which is true to the spirit of the original but adapted to the needs of the 21st century. She discharges this task with wit and delicacy -- Stefan Collini * Prospect *
A small literary jewel * Evening News *
Gowers's main precepts are as sensible today as they were when he first presented them ... beneficial, intelligent and sympathetic -- David Crystal
Over half a century after Plain Words was first published, its principles are as important as ever: say what you mean in the clearest possible fashion. Rebecca Gowers has done a great job ... superb -- Caroline Taggart
One thing that makes Gowers such an engaging figure is that he isn't prissy, priggish or prim. As far as he is concerned, language is a living thing that is constantly changing - and this is just as it should be * Sunday Telegraph *
Still the best book on English and how to write it ... Unhappy with versions rewritten by others, Rebecca Gowers, Sir Ernest's great-granddaughter, has produced a new edition ... The result is splendid ... Gowers wrote with wit, humanity and common sense ... [his] central advice should be taped to the screen of anyone sitting down at a computer keyboard -- Michael Skapinker * Financial Times *
The book has been modernized but preserves all its original charm ... There is arguably a greater need for its circulation among the general public [than ever before] * Big Issue *
The zeal with which Sir Ernest uncovers error is matched only by the wit with which he chastises it * Evening Standard *
I am glad that attention should be continually drawn to copies of this book ... I am in full sympathy with the doctrine laid down by Sir Ernest Gowers -- Sir Winston Churchill
A delight, a classic of its kind * John o'London's Weekly *
Great fun to read * Economist *
Brilliant * New Statesman *
A sweetly reasonable and wholly admirable guide * The Times *
It will delight far wider circles than those to whom it is primarily addressed * Observer *
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