The family lived in Queen Anne Street, W1. Ernest followed his elder brother, William Frederick Gowers — to Rugby School , where he shone academically and as a sportsman. At Rugby, Ernest was also noted as an outstanding organist, an accomplishment that became a lifelong hobby. Their sisters, Edith and Evelyn, mainly schooled at home, both lost their sight after developing Retinitis pigmentosa in early adult life. They had two daughters and one son.
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Shelves: reference The Complete Plain Words is one of some half-dozen books on my shelves which I dip into in the vain hope of improving my prose style. Gowers was a civil servant and it is to fellow civil servants that his book is primarily addressed.
His enemy is officialise and, to a lesser extent, commercialese. He notes that the language is subject to perpetual change, and his own English, and many of the objects of his wrath are already old-fashioned. His message is that writing should be performed to convey The Complete Plain Words is one of some half-dozen books on my shelves which I dip into in the vain hope of improving my prose style. To this end, the writer should choose the right words and arrange them with clarity and simplicity.
Writing should be short, simple and human. This is of course easy to say, but not quite so easy to do. Simplicity is not at all simple.
The problem with this particular book is that it is organized to be read from beginning to end. It is not set out like a reference book. It is difficult to treat this book in this manner, so it finally becomes tedious. Gowers is an elegant and witty writer.
He explains things well; his examples are well-chosen; he is often funny. All the same, by the time I was half way through the book, I could have thrown it on the fire. Indeed, I have not bothered to finish it. I am happy to have the book on my shelf, but I shall approach it in future via the index.
Background[ edit ] The association of wordiness with bureaucracy has a long history. In the 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer , a prominent civil servant as well as a poet, urged the use of straightforward writing. There must be no conventional phrases, no waste of words. In Little Dorrit in the mids, Charles Dickens caricatured officialdom as the "Circumlocution Office", where for even the most urgent matter nothing could be done without "half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence. In he remarked in a speech about the civil service, "It is said He called for a new style of official writing, friendly in tone and easy to understand.
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Complete Plain Words