The Complete Plain Words is the UK equivalent of The Elements of Style. It is the biggest-ever bestseller from Her Majesty's Stationery Office, and has never been out of print since 1954.
The first edition in 1948 was a radical call to clarity from a top civil servant. Anything written by Sir Ernest Gowers, formerly Private Secretary to Lloyd George, had the ring of authority.
During the Blitz, he was in charge of London's civil defence. One evening in 1943 Gowers entertained exhausted civil defenders by mocking the pompous tone and ridiculous language used in government circulars. He called for a radical change:
Prefer the familiar word to the far fetched. Prefer the concrete word to the abstract. Prefer the single word to the circumlocution. Prefer the short word to the long. Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.