When Cornell English Professor William Strunk, Jr. self published a small guide for his English classes, he probably never imagined that E.B. White, one of his former students, would help make the little book one of the foremost authorities on writing. Yet, 50 years later, Strunk and White's Elements of Style has sold well over 10 million copies and is on almost every bookshelf or desk of anyone who has ever written an article, essay, academic paper and/or book.
And according to one article, this valuable little gem would have been lost if someone hadn't broken into the library at Cornell University, stolen one of the two original copies of Strunks original book and sent it to White (who had lost his own copy long ago).
I know my well used copy of Elements of Style still holds its prominent place among my reference books.