Monday, 3 July 2017

JULY'S AUTHOR by Sharon Tregenza


Elwyn Brooks White was born on July 11th, 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York. He was the youngest child of Samuel Tilly White, the president of a piano firm, and Jessie Hart White, the daughter of Scottish-American painter William Hart.

After graduating from Cornell University, he worked in an advertising agency. When The New Yorker was founded in 1925, White submitted manuscripts to the literary editor, Katherine Angell. He eventually agreed to be taken on as staff and in 1929 White and Angell were married.

James Thurber described White as a quiet man, disliking publicity, who during his time at The New Yorker would slip out of his office via the fire escape to avoid visitors he didn't know.

His two best known books are: "Stuart Little" and Charlottes Web".


He was also a co-author of "The Elements of Style" with William Strunk.

White died on October 1st, 1985 at his farmhouse in Maine. He is buried in the Brooklin Cemetery beside his wife Katherine, who died in 1977.

Five things you may not know about "Charlotte's Web":

1. The Farm in the book was based on White's own. He even had a swing like the one described in the story.

2. The spider's name was based on science. When White identified the spider in his barn as Araneus cavaticus - he named her Charlotte A. Cavatica.

3. White struggled with the opening for his book so he invented Fern to deliver the now famous line, "Where's Papa going with that axe?"

4. Hollywood wanted to cut Charlotte's death from the cartoon. White held firm and won.

5. White kept an egg sack in a candy box in his New York bedroom. When it hatched and baby spiders emerged, he wrote in a letter, "They were very busy and almost invisible, they were so small. We all lived together happily for a couple of weeks."


Sue Purkiss said...

Only read Charlotte's Web a few years ago - such a good book!

Sharon Tregenza said...

Me too, Sue. We're late bloomers, I guess. :)

Penny Dolan said...

The Elements of Style is, though spider-less, quite a witty look at language & grammar.