I’m a subscriber to “The Writer’s Almanac,” a daily digest of book links, poems and historical tidbits compiled by Garrison Keillor. If you want to check it out, go to
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From today’s email:
“It’s the birthday of lexicographer Henry Watson Fowler (books by this author), born in Tonbridge, Kent, England (1858). He studied at Oxford and taught Latin, Greek, and English at a boys’ school in northwest England for 17 years, then resigned and moved to the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, built himself a one-room cottage, and began living like a hermit.
Though he spent all his time writing essays and produced enough to fill two book-length manuscripts, he could not succeed in getting them published. He then came up with the idea to write “a sort of English composition manual, from the negative point of view, for journalists & amateur writers.” Collaborating with his brother on the work for Oxford University Press, he wrote The King’s English (1906), which begins:
“Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.”