E.B. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and went to 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. He wrote satirical sketches, poems, essays, and editorials.
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, 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.
White was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his children's books Stuart LittleStuart Little and Charlotte's WebCharlotte's Web. His third children's book, The Trumpet of the Swan, was 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.
His essays appeared in Harper's Magazine, and his books (for adults) 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. He wrote a total of 20 books of prose and poetry! poetry!
Mr. White was awarded the 1971 National Medal for Literature, and in 1963, President John F. Kennedy named him as one of 31 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 50 members. He also received honorary degrees from 7 colleges and universities.
Mr. White died on October 1, 1985.
This article has been reprinted by permission of the HarperCollins Children's Publishers