Fowler in his swimsuit

In David Crystal’s Encyclopedia of the English Language (p. 196), Fowler is portrayed in his swimsuit, and so he is in the OxfordWords blog “From telegraphese to texting: one hundred years of the Concise Oxford Dictionary“.

I’ve always wondered why: after all, other writers on language from the more or less distant past are presented in Crystal’s encyclopedia much more formally: Otto Jespersen (p. 195), for instance, and Samuel Johnson (p. 74), Robert Lowth (p. 79), Lindley Murray (p. 79), John Walker (p. 77) and Noah Webster (p. 81). It is not as though no other images of Fowler would have been available, as the cover of the special issue on prescriptivism of English Today illustrates. 

Elsewhere in this blog, Matthijs Smits shows an image of Bryan Garner, Fowler’s American counterpart, which is also very different from that of Fowler, though for diffeerent reasons.

So what would be the reason for depicting Fowler in his swimsuit, to make fun of this popular writer of a usage guide? Or to show admiration for the fact that he was a keen swimmer all his life? If the laterre, what does that have to do with the fact that he wrote the book which was to turn into a household word?

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