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On the Art of Writing

Arthur Quiller-Couch


Arthur Quiller-Couch had a distinguished career as a writer and literary critic before being appointed the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge. Shortly afterwards, he delivered this series of lectures on the history, and tasteful composition of, English prose.

His core advice is that the effective writer writes with accuracy, perspicuity, persuasion, and appropriateness. He implores writers to avoid jargon, and along the way he drops that famous line that modern writers love to quote: “Murder your darlings.”

Though ostensibly focused on the craft of writing, these lectures cover much more than just that; because Quiller-Couch insists that great writers must first read the giants of English literature, he spends a good deal of time covering the history of English prose and literature, going as far back as the Greeks and Beowulf, before taking the opportunity to criticize the way English has been taught in schools and universities.

Less of an instructional book and more of a survey of some of the finest—and some the worst—English prose, The Art of Writing is still frequently quoted today.

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A brief history of this ebook

  1. Use grave accent for scansion

  2. Update word count in metadata

  3. Update accessibility boilerplate

  4. Update Onix file boilerplate

  5. Fix typo.

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