William Zinsser, A 4th Generation New Yorker

[Photos and text MISTER MORT]

For the start of Fashion Week, I thought I would post someone who has been wearing Brooks Brothers & J Press for over 40 years.I photographed William Zinsser in a Brooks Brothers Overcoat, Brooks Brothers oxford shirt, J Press scarf ,blazer and tie. He took his glove off to shake my hand. That’s a true gentleman, it was frigid out. He asked what it was that I like about what he was wearing and I told him the classic timelessness of his look. He mentioned he has an oil painting of himself and the artist made the roll in the color very clear in the painting!Did some research: William Knowlton Zinsser (born October 7, 1922), a writer, editor, and teacher. His 18 books, which range in subject from music to baseball to American travel, include several widely read books about writing. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction , first published in 1976, has sold almost 1.5 million copies. He began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked as a feature writer, drama editor, film critic, and editorial writer, and has been a longtime contributor to leading magazines. Throughout the 1970s, Zinsser taught writing at Yale where he was master of Branford College. Now teaches at The New School and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Many high school teachers have incorporated Zinsser’s writing into their lesson plans. Some teachers even go as far as to tell their students to “Zinsser” their work (Zinsser used as a verb meaning to take the clutter out of their essays).
What A Guy!

  • Wow, I read on writing well in college! It was one of the first books that really got me thinking about writing. What a wonderful picture of a great man, and gentleman yes, I love the bit about the glove!

  • Like the hat, scarf and the fact that Zinsser has become a verb. He looks good against that blue background too, nice photo.

  • What a class act.

  • Mim

    A touching face!

  • Zinsser is a master of communication. His style, like his writing, is timeless.

  • LOVE the way he's wearing that scarf! AWESOME!


  • He has a kind face.

  • Awww!!!!! thats cute.

  • Fabulous! He's my hero and he looks just fabulous!

  • I have a copy of "On Writing Well" on my bookshelf now, how wonderful to see the face behind the book! He does have a very classic look that only quality clothing gives you, and the scarf is a great splash of colour.

  • Small World! William is my husband's uncle!

  • When I was newly out of college, I worked with Bill at Book of the Month Club. He was the most modest, sweet, supportive man. Nice to see him, 30 years later! Thank you.

  • How thrilling to find William Zinsser in an Advanced Style post.

    On Writing Well is my favorite book on writing. I keep a copy near my desk. Almost every page is annotated and highlighted. Many favorite Zinsserisms are underlined:

    "Rewriting is the essence of writing well."

    "Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly."

    No one understands writing and writers better than this brilliant man.

    It shouldn't surprise me that Mr. Zinsser brings as much classic, clean style to his clothes as to his words.