Spider, spin me a web!
E.B. White (1899-1985) was perhaps best known among older writers as the “White” of Strunk & White, the co-authors of the English style guide, The Elements of Style, which was originally published in 1959 and is still considered the grammar bible.
But to many children, children’s authors, and those who are kids at heat, his most famous story is Charlotte’s Web. First published in 1952, it is the 78th best-selling hard cover book in the US. It was a Newberry Honor book in 1953. It was first transformed into an animated movie in 1973, and was remade in 2006. Anyone who has never had the pleasure of watching this film, should get to Netflix ASAP! It is a timeless story of friendship between a pig, Wilbur, and a spider, Charlotte, with comic relief from Templeton the rat.
E.B. White was not just famous for Charlotte’s Web. He also wrote two of my favorite classic children’s books – Stuart Little (1945)and Trumpet of the Swan (1970). Stuart Little was eventually made into an animated film in 1999, though it was never as beloved as Charlotte and Wilbur. Mr. White received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the U.S. professional children’s librarians in 1970, recognizing his substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature.
He didn’t always write for children, though. Mr. White had a long career with The New Yorker beginning in 1925 and lasting six decades. He was also a columnist for Harper’s Magazine from 1938-1945. He published nonfiction work such as Here is New York (1949). He also won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal (1960), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963), the National Medal for Literature (1971), the PEN New England Award for Letters of E.B. White (1977), and the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for Letters in 1978.
I find it a relief to know that E.B. White had a long and serious career prior to publishing his first children’s book at the age of 46. I, too, will be 46 when I publish my first children’s book. I can only dream that it will become a timeless classic as well! 🙂
If you have any kids in your life, please do them and yourself a favor and pick up these three books by E. B. White. And while you are at it, grab the original Charlotte’s Web DVD!