English professor William Strunk Jr. wrote The Elements of Style as a guide for his students at Cornell University and had it printed privately in 1918. In 1935, Strunk issued a revised edition, titled The Elements and Practice of Composition, with Edward A. Tenney as coauthor. Among Strunk’s students was E. B. White, who many years later wrote an article about Strunk for the New Yorker magazine. The article led Macmillan publishers to ask White to revise Strunk’s original book for general publication. (Strunk died in 1946.) This first published edition of The Elements of Style came out in 1959 and credited Strunk and White as coauthors. To supplement his other additions and revisions, White added a fifth chapter, ‘‘An Approach to Style.’’ White’s New Yorker article about Strunk was revised to serve as an introduction.
White made minor changes for a second edition published in 1972 and further additions and updates for the third edition, published in 1979. A fourth edition published in 1999 includes a new introduction written by White’s stepson, Roger Angell.
Since publication of the 1959 edition, The Elements of Style has been widely considered a necessary reference for both academic and professional writers. Generations of students, teachers, writers, and editors have known it simply as ‘‘Strunk and White.’’