has it that William Strunk Jr.
was a terror
in the classroom
. He taught a composition
class at Cornell University
, from which the classic Elements of Style
emerged, and he was fond of tormenting his student
s by publicly pointing out the inadequacies of their writing
As frightening as he was, his class was very popular, and was held in one of Cornell's largest lecture halls. Whenever Strunk walked into the room, it fell silent -- nobody wanting to stand out and be picked on.
He came in to start his lecture one day, armed with a sheaf of papers, as usual. He strode to the lectern, shuffled his papers around, gazed at his students over his spectacles, cleared his throat.
"Omit needless words," the professor intoned.
He gathered his papers and left.