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Letters of E. B. White Paperback – December 18, 2007
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About the Author
E. B. White, the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985, and was survived by his son and three grandchildren.
Mr. White's essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, and some of his other books are: One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E. B. White, Essays of E. B. White, and Poems and Sketches of E. B. White. He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."
During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination."
More About the Author
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, Mr. White attended public schools there. He was graduated from Cornell University in 1921, worked in New York for a year, then traveled about. After five or six years of trying many sorts of jobs, he joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. The connection proved a happy one and resulted in a steady output of satirical sketches, poems, essays, and editorials. His essays have also appeared in Harper's Magazine, and his books include One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E.B. White, The Essays of E.B. White and Poems and Sketches of E.B. White. In 1938 Mr. White moved to the country. On his farm in Maine he kept animals, and some of these creatures got into his stories and books. Mr. White said he found writing difficult and bad for one's disposition, but he kept at it. He began Stuart Little in the hope of amusing a six-year-old niece of his, but before he finished it, she had grown up.
For his total contribution to American letters, Mr. White was awarded the 1971 National Medal for Literature. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named Mr. White as one of thirty-one Americans to receive the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Mr. White also received the National Institute of Arts and Letters' Gold Medal for Essays and Criticism, and in 1973 the members of the Institute elected him to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a society of fifty members. He also received honorary degrees from seven colleges and universities. Mr. White died on October 1, 1985.
Top Customer Reviews
A modest man, E. B. White claims often that writing for him is difficult and painful. Yet this collection of letters shows that from the beginning, Elwyn Brooks White had an innate ability to write simply, clearly, and charmingly.
Whether he is thanking young readers for compliments, advising aspiring writers on writing, or berating a famous author for endorsing a product, he is witty, clear, and compassionate.
Reading these letters you will think, cry, laugh, and even wince, but you will not frown in confusion as you wonder what the writer is trying to say. As a very beneficial side effect, reading E. B. White will often improve your own writing.
Am I biased? You bet! Years of reading the stilted, jargon-laced writing of business, and the contrived, artificial efforts at "style" of many authors, reading anything by E. B. White is like talking to your best friend.
1. He was against the isolationist stance promoted by the Lindberghs. White was against all wars up to this one, but he could not accept what Hitler was doing in Europe. He saw the danger and wrote about it. He was not the first one to write. There were many people who actually lived or traveled extensively in Europe during this time that spoke out first, but White was an eloquent spokesman against Nazis and isolationism.
2. He was a strong advocate of world government. He was the first writer who had a national forum to write on it. And he wrote a lot. For a time fully one-third of his editorials in The New Yorker were on that subject. It hasn't worked out as well as he had hoped, but much of that is because the United States has not backed the United Nations in the way we should have. Also, White was strongly against the veto power given to the major nations (particular the Soviet Union). Again, I think time has proven him right.
3. He was the first to criticize the House Un-American Activities Committee. And it was at a time when Congress, by a vote of 346-17, agreed to issue subpoenas to the Hollywood Ten. To come and support these 10 people and look directly into the eyes of 346 members of Congress and tell them "you're wrong", took a great act of courage. Unfortunately, there weren't many others like him at the time.
4. He spoke out against Joseph McCarthy even when Eisenhower was afraid to publicly do so.Read more ›
The original hardcover review: "The perfect book is the book where you don't care what page you're on, & this is the perfect book."
Post Note (08/18/10): In case you're thinking of purchasing the Revised Edition of the Letters (2006), don't.
Recently, a friend exhibited an interest in Mr. White after being swiftly won over by sampling a page or two of White's "Wild Flag" (Houghton Mifflin Co.; 1943-46).
I figured his best next venture would be the Letters & foraged into the Amazon marketplace, where I found the "Letters of E.B. White, Revised Edition." I'm game. A paperback copy was purchased.
I was appalled, successively, by:
Richard Grant's cliché-infested "Praise for The Revised Edition" ("deft," etc.) is exactly the sort of cheapjack media log-rolling that Andy White regarded with heart-felt contempt;
John Updike's weirdly disengaged "Foreword" also featured the telltale "deft" (a word most likely to surface when a writer is uninspired by what he's been commissioned to endorse) - & the word "unease," promiscuously employed no less than five times (buy a thesaurus!). Its final paragraph ends with the tone of his writing tailing off into a void of invisible conviction;
(Updike's incessant characterization of White's "unease" should be balanced by what Updike had written earlier which, fortunately, was quoted by White's biographer, Scott Elledge, p. 130, "E.B.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
White, sometimes known best for the children's book, Charlotte's Web, and for Elements of Style, for me actually shines as an essayist. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Tippa
If you care about the man himself that you have come to love as your instructor of style, then you need to get into his world and read his letters and see how how human he is, how... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Ibrahim
I am still chuckling at the master's use of language. I keep reading it aloud to anyone who will listen and urge everyone to get a copy and do the same.Published on August 22, 2013 by Granny-By-The-Sea
E. B. White is a pleasure to read. He can be humorous, descriptive, whatever the subject requires, occasionally sad, but never boring,Published on March 8, 2013 by Ann Halsell
I'm a huge fan of E.B. White's and a committed reader of The New Yorker magazine. If the authors of the era and the mechanics of writing/publication are of interest, you would... Read morePublished on July 11, 2011 by OptimusCrank
An interesting book but I can't imagine why he kept every one of the letters that are reprinted here. Read morePublished on July 5, 2011 by V. Mac