Plain English Awards

celebrate New Zealand's clearest communicators

Rachel McAlpine

Judge: Best Plain English Website category

Author, New Zealand

Rachel’s engagement with plain English began on her first visit to Japan in the 1990s. After delivering a lecture at Doshisha Women’s College in Kyoto, she was astonished to be offered the prestigious position of Guest Professor. The reason was explicit: unlike scores of world-famous figures, she had made herself understood. She was shocked to find that most English speakers put the onus of clear communication on the ESL user, and in response she wrote Global English for Global Business.

Back in New Zealand in 1995, Rachel discovered the ‘world wide web’, as it was quaintly called at the time. She instantly saw that this would change conventional communication forever, and eventually she wrote Web Word Wizardry, the world’s first book on writing for the web.

In 2005 she founded Contented, teaching the skills of digital writing online, and other books followed.

Rachel withdrew from Contented last year at the age of 76. She is fundamentally a poet who strayed from her destiny in the cause of clear communication. She is a paradox: a plain English advocate who writes enigmatic or frivolous or mysterious poems that are far from plain. Her latest novel is the exuberant Fixing Mrs Philpott, available on Kindle or on real paper.

Websites: — Poems in the wild — Write into life

2017 Plain English Awards judges