Century wins auction for Random House veteran's grammar rules

Century wins auction for Random House veteran's grammar rules

A 36-hour “flash” auction has seen Century buy a grammar guide by Benjamin Dreyer, long-time Random House copy chief and editor

A New York Times bestseller following US publication last month, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, distills Dreyer's 30-year career as Random House copy chief, and now "one of Twitter’s leading language gurus”, according to Century.

Century publishing director Ben Brusey acquired British Commonwealth rights from Gordon Wise, Curtis Brown, on behalf of Jennifer Joel at ICM. Dreyer’s English will be published on 30th May in hardback, e-book and audiobook.

"In the book, Dreyer distils everything he has learned from his 30-year career working with some of the world’s greatest writers,” Century said. The result is a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best prose foot forward. As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the under-loved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and non-rules of grammar, including why it’s OK to begin a sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But’ and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including ‘very’, ‘rather’, ‘of course’, and the dreaded ‘actually’.”

Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief of Random House in the US. He began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. In 1993, he became a production editor at Random House, and has various copyedited books.

The author, who is based in New York City, said: "We all write, all the time: books, blogs, emails. Lots and lots of emails. And we all want to write better. I hope that this book will be of some help, and that readers will take even half the pleasure in it as I took in writing it."

Brusey said: "The opening chapter of Benjamin’s playful, pithy and essential book is entitled 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Prose)'. Benjamin has already worked wonders on my own leaden prose, and I know he will do the same for readers everywhere. We are proud to be publishing his special book, which will surely rank as one of the finest written on the English language."

Since US publication last month, the book has received acclaim from the media and authors such as Elizabeth Strout, George Saunders and Michael Chabon have praised the book. The book will be anglicised and published in British English.