E. B. White is one of America’s most celebrated writers and authors. He is known for many works, not the least of which are his award-winning children’s books Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. Before E. B. White became a celebrated children’s author, he was a highly regarded writer for The New Yorker.
E. B. White was born Elwyn Brooks White on 11 July 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York. He attended Cornell University, and he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1921. It was at Cornell that E. B. White studied under a professor by the name of William Strunk, Jr., who is the original author of the well-known English language usage reference book, Elements of Style. E. B. White revised the original 1918 version in 1959. Today, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is one of the most highly regarded reference books for writers and is often required reading for composition classes.
As a celebrated writer, E. B. White first lent his style to children’s books in the late 1930s. His first book, Stuart Little, along with his second, Charlotte’s Web, jointly won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1970. Both books have since been adapted into screenplays for children’s movies. The animated classic Charlotte’s Web first appeared in 1973 and was reborn as a live action film starring Dakota Fanning as Fern and featuring Julia Roberts as the voice of Charlotte. The film debuted in theatres during Christmas of 2006.
With a writing career that spanned over six decades, E. B. White won a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and a special Pulitzer Prize in 1978, in addition to the other awards that his writing received. After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, one particular passage from E. B. White’s 1948 essay “Here is New York” was frequently cited, because he wrote of New York’s vulnerability at the beginning of the nuclear age. White’s essay contained prose that so closely described the terrorist attacks more than 50 years before they would occur that to some it was tragically poetic, and to others prophetic. E. B. White died on 1 October 1985 after having suffered years with Alzheimer’s. He left behind a son, Joel, and the written collections of his life’s work, many of which continue to thrill readers to this day.