William Strunk, Jr. (July 1, 1869, Cincinnati, Ohio—September 26, 1946, Ithaca, New York) was Professor of English at Cornell University and is best known as the author of the first editions of The Elements of Style, a guide to English usage, which he had printed privately in 1918 for the use of his students. It became a classic on the local campus, known as "the little book".
In the original edition, Strunk describes the purpose of the book as follows:
"It aims to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention ... on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated."
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The original was revised in 1935 by Strunk and Edward A. Tenney and published under the title The Elements and Practice of Composition. After Strunk's death, it was again revised by E. B. White, an editor at The New Yorker who had been one of Strunk's students. The 1959 edition of The Elements of Style (often referred to as "Strunk and White") became the companion of most American writers as well as most college freshmen.
Strunk earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Cincinnati in 1890 and a Ph.D. at Cornell University in 1896. He taught English at Cornell for forty-six years. The only other book Strunk wrote was English Metres, published locally in 1922. Better known as an editor, Strunk edited works by important authors including William Shakespeare, John Dryden, and James Fenimore Cooper. He served as a literary consultant to the 1936 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film version of Romeo and Juliet.
Strunk married Olivia Emilie Locke in 1900, and they had two sons and a daughter.