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Benjamin Dreyer

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Benjamin Dreyer
Dreyer in September 2018
Born (1958-05-11) May 11, 1958 (age 66)
Alma materNorthwestern University
Occupation(s)Writer, copy editor
EmployerRandom House
Known forDreyer's English
TitleVice-president, executive managing editor and copy chief
  • Stanley B. Dreyer (father)
  • Diana C. Seligman (mother)

Benjamin Dreyer (born May 11, 1958) is an American writer and copy editor. He was copy chief at Random House until he retired in 2023 [1] and the author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style (2019).

Early life[edit]

Dreyer was born May 11, 1958[2] in a Jewish family.[3] He grew up in Queens, New York and Albertson, Long Island.[4] He attended Northwestern University.[5]


Early in his career, Dreyer pursued writing[6] and acting.[4] He worked in bars and restaurants before turning to freelance proofreading, then copy editing.[4] In 1993 he joined Random House full time as a production editor.[5] He was promoted from group manager to senior managing editor and copy chief in 2008[7] and served as vice-president, executive managing editor and copy chief, at the Random House division of Penguin Random House.[5] until 2023. Supervising the publication of hundreds of titles a year—The New York Times describes Dreyer's role as "style-arbiter-of-last-resort"—he works only with novelist Elizabeth Strout as the sole author he continues to copy-edit himself.[4]

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style was published in the US on January 29, 2019, with a UK edition to follow on May 30, 2019.[8] Dreyer began the project as a revision of an internal memo to advise copy editors and proofreaders at Random House.[9] The memo expanded to about 20 pages and eventually Dreyer became interested in developing it as a book, published with Random House. Dreyer's English debuted at number nine on The New York Times bestseller list for "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous"[10] and received enthusiastic reviews.[11][12] In The New Yorker, Katy Waldman writes that "Dreyer beckons readers by showing that his rules make prose pleasurable...The author’s delight in his tool kit is palpable."[13] In Paste, Frannie Jackson recommends the book as "invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills and an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language."[14] In The Wall Street Journal, Ben Yagoda finds "wisdom and good sense on nearly every page of 'Dreyer’s English.'"[15] (Yagoda also notes a trend of "copy editors’ memoirs-cum-style guides", comparing Dreyer's English to "the splendid Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen" from New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris.)[15]

The Washington Post calls Dreyer "the unofficial language guru on Twitter".[16]

Personal life[edit]

Dreyer lives in New York City.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'Words in Progress: Notes From a Retired Copy Chief,' Kirkus Reviews, December 13,2023
  2. ^ Dreyer, Benjamin (2019-02-18). "Oh, cool: May 11, 1958. Thanks". @BCDreyer. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  3. ^ Frazer, Jenni. "From US to UK, veteran editor Benjamin Dreyer has the last word on English style". Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Lyall, Sarah (1 February 2019). "Meet the Guardian of Grammar Who Wants to Help You Be a Better Writer". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Benjamin Dreyer". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Penguin Random House. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  6. ^ "RH Copy Chief Benjamin Dreyer on His Second Career As An Author + Some Grammatical Tips". penguinrandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  7. ^ "Duffy, Dreyer Up at Random". Publishers Weekly. January 7, 2008. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  8. ^ Wood, Heloise (February 15, 2019). "Century wins auction for Random House veteran's grammar rules | The Bookseller". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  9. ^ Kreizman, Maris. "Grammar Guru Benjamin Dreyer Talks Twitter Style, Denounces 'Onboarding'". www.vulture.com. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  10. ^ "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous Books - Best Sellers - The New York Times". The New York Times. February 17, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  11. ^ "Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style". Publishers Weekly. October 29, 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  12. ^ Warner, John (January 27, 2019). "'Dreyer's English' Is for Everybody". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  13. ^ Waldman, Katy (30 January 2019). "The Hedonic Appeal of "Dreyer's English"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  14. ^ Jackson, Frannie (January 25, 2019). "The 10 Best Books of January 2019". Paste. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  15. ^ a b Yagoda, Ben (25 January 2019). "'Dreyer's English' Review: Flossing Your Prose". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  16. ^ Patrick, Bethanne (January 1, 2019). "What books to read in January". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 January 2019.

External links[edit]