I mentioned some time ago on a post that Winston Churchill was one of my all-time favorite writers. A number of you (OK, three, but three is a number) asked who the others are. So in no particular order, here are my top four and I would love to know your favorite writers.
As a member of an upper class family in England, Churchill was sent to the most exclusive schools. Although he was from a prominent family, it was determined that he was too dull to learn the classics like his fellow classmates. He was to study only English.
So while his classmates went on to study Greek and Latin and lead ordinary lives, Churchill with his command of written and spoken English went on to be one of the great leaders of the twentieth century and a world icon.
He is the author of thousands of speeches, magazine and newspaper articles and over forty books, including the four-volume A History of the English Speaking Peoples. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
He was also devoted to his Poodles.
I first read Huckleberry Finn and a few other of his works as a child. About a decade later I studied Huckleberry Finn as part of English 101. Another ten or so years later I helped design an English 101 curriculum and we included Huckleberry Finn.
What is remarkable about so much of Twain’s writings is that people can read them at different times of their lives and be challenged and charmed in entirely different ways.
Probably no two books have been more assigned (and enjoyed) in classrooms than Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell gave us words like Orwellian, Big Brother, thought police, newspeak, thoughtcrime, crimestop, doublethink and more.
However it is his nonfiction that is to me most impressive. “Shooting an Elephant” is a jewel of the language. “Politics and the English Language” is brilliant. When I taught college composition, I introduced his six rules the first day of class.
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist, author, novelist, blogger and quite possibly the funniest writer who ever typed an English sentence.
And totally unrelated....