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Letters of E. B. White, Revised Edition Hardcover – November 21, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Revised edition (November 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060757086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060757083
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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."

From The Washington Post

Language lovers everywhere can be grateful for the reappearance of Letters of E.B. White (HarperCollins, $35), originally collected and edited by Dorothy Lobrano Guth and published in 1976, and now updated by his granddaughter Martha White to include newly released letters from the last decade of his life. A prose stylist with the word version of perfect pitch, White was the unassuming but masterly New Yorker writer, Maine farmer and author of the beloved classics Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. In many ways, he was a man of few words who always found the right ones.

From the first (dated 1908 -- he was born in 1899) to the last (in 1985, the year he died), these letters are a window onto White's world. He described himself once as "a fellow who spends most of his time crouched over a typewriter." As John Updike's affectionate foreword concludes: "His letters give us . . . what a novel scarcely can: the dailiness of a life, its wearing parade of duties and decencies, its endless-seeming fending (though it does end), its accumulating pyramid of, amid errands, carelessly and alertly noted hours, and the frequent if rarely stated discriminations whereby an artist picks his path."

White once told his brother Stanley, "I avoid writing letters -- it resembles too closely writing itself, and gives me a headache." We're all the richer for his having not been true to his words.

Dip in anywhere and come up with sentences that are simple and funny and wise:

"So far, nobody has managed to entice me in front of a television camera with my mouth open and my foot in it. And that's the way I plan to keep it." (January 1978, declining a request for an interview from CBS News's Andy Rooney)

"Here's a report from Minneapolis, home of the Twins. A mother of two . . . who works in a bookstore, says the ELEMENTS [of Style] is propped up on the front table with all the other hot paperbacks -- between the Rand McNally Road Atlas and The Joy of Sex -- and is selling faster than either of them. Actually, it's scary to learn that the country is turning from sex to semicolons. Makes me uneasy." (July 20, 1979)

"Quite simply, the best in-depth study ever made of an out-of-his-depth man." (May 28, 1983, suggesting to his biographer a blurb for the dust jacket)

"Thanks for calling me 'Professor E.B. White.' It has a nice sound but can be shortened to 'E.B. White' -- a saving of one word and a long step toward accuracy." (Dec. 27, 1983)

Copyright 2007, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.


More About the Author

E.B. White, the author of twenty books of prose and poetry, was awarded the 1970 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his children's books, Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. This award is now given every three years "to an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have, over a period of years, make a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." The year 1970 also marked the publication of Mr. White's third book for children, The Trumpet of the Swan, honored by The International Board on Books for Young People as an outstanding example of literature with international importance. In 1973, it received the Sequoyah Award (Oklahoma) and the William Allen White Award (Kansas), voted by the school children of those states as their "favorite book" of the year.

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Stine on January 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I wish everyone could write as well as E.B.White! It is a great pleasure to travel with him through his life by way of his letters! This collection is museum quality art that is available to us instantly upon picking up the book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Faldaste on June 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
E.B. Whites letters are honest and intimate, insightful and extremely funny. White's letters often deal with his experiences and feelings about the writing process. Because of this, I would recommend reading his letters before reading collections of his essays. These letters are as satisfying, if not more so, than any biography.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This wonderful collection of letters by the gentle and wise Mr. White will be of keen interest to all that enjoy fine writing. All the better if one has an interest in The New Yorker magazine, the children's book Charlotte's Web, English grammar, boating, farming in Maine, or just the everyday thoughts of one of our country's greatest essayists.

E.B. White was fortunate in having a talented granddaughter, who has extended the first edition of this book (its letters having ended with 1975 or 76) through to the completion of his journey in 1984.
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