Today would have been E.B. White’s 114th birthday. A truly remarkable man, White not only wrote some of the most widely appreciated children’s books of all time — Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan are all his work — but he also penned some of the most remarkable essays of our time, including Here is New York. And, of course, White is responsible for updating William Strunk’s The Elements of Style (which should find its way onto everyone’s bookshelves at some point in time). Simply put, if you’re a fan of words, then you’re a fan of E.B. White.
White was born on July 11, 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York. His full name was Elwyn — this was the 19th century, after all — Brooks White, but he went by Andy in college, and the name stuck. After graduating from Cornell University, he originally entered the writing world through journalism, finding work for the United Press and eventually the Seattle Times. It was in 1925 that White’s remarkable career was born: The New Yorker had been recently founded, and White would submit essays for publication. Eventually, the literary editor Katherine Angell — who would later become White’s wife — convinced the magazine editor, Harold Ross, to employ White permanently. It was on the pages of this now-famous magazine that White spilled some of the most important words of our time. Classrooms across the country — and the world, for that matter — use White’s work to teach the art and mechanics of writing.
And then E.B. White took a stab at writing children’s books — and we’re all exceptionally lucky that he did. His first novel was Stuart Little, which was published in 1945, followed a few years later by Charlotte’s Web. And, in 1970, White created The Trumpet of the Swan. Despite having been written half a century ago, these novels remain literary classics. Indeed, many consider them to be indispensable as children begin building relationships with books — we’re in agreement. In his stories, White masterfully weaves together the human world and the animal world, giving young readers the chance to witness his own incredible imagination.
Unfortunately for us all, E.B. White passed away in 1985, but we’re not going to let that stop us from wishing him a happy birthday (although perhaps he wouldn’t be too appreciative; he was never a fan of publicity). We suggest you celebrate with a good book.