E.B. White

(1899-1985), American

E.B. White was born in July 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is remembered today for his children’s novels, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web.

White also worked as a writer and editor for The New Yorker magazine after it was founded and spent much of his career writing articles and essays. Some of these are compiled into longer collections of his work. He’s also remembered for his depiction of New York City in Here Is New York, his first published novella.

Life Facts

    • He wrote many books, including Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web.

    • He won the Newberry Award for Charlotte’s Web. 

    • His first article was published in 1925.

    • He worked for The New Yorker as a staff writer.

    • In 1971, he won a National Medal for Literature.

Interesting Facts

    • E.B. White’s first published essay was “Once More to the Lake.”

    • Today, the E.B. White Read Aloud Award is given in his honor.

    • In 1978, White was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize.

    • His children’s books initially received less-than-ideal welcomes from the literary community.

Famous Books by E.B. White

  • Charlotte’s Web is a children’s novel by E. B. White, published in 1952. The novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. The story is told from the perspective of Wilbur, an innocent and trusting little pig who has just been born on a farm in Maine. He learns about life, love, tragedy, and death through his experiences with Charlotte and her friends, as well as with other barn animals such as the rat Templeton and the sheep Old Major.
  • Stuart Little is another well-known children’s novel White published. It was illustrated by Garth Williams. It was published in 1945. The book tells the story of a mouse named Stuart, who is born into a family of human beings and tries to adjust to life as an animal among humans.
  • The Trumpet of the Swan is about a swan named Louis who is born without a voice and his friends. He tries to get the attention of Serena, a young swan he’s interested in, but finds it hard to get to know her. Louis acquires a trumpet and learns to play (connecting the book explicitly to Louis Armstrong, who was a central inspiration for the novel). 
  • Here Is New York is White’s first novel. It was inspired by the time he spent living in New York and experiencing all of its pros and cons. The novel has been cited as one of the best books ever written about the city.

Early Life

E.B. White was born in July 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York. He was his parents’ sixth child and was quickly imbued with a love of reading and exploring nature (the latter was used as inspiration for his novel Charlotte’s Web).

As a young man, he attended Cornell University before serving as a private in the student army training corps. He graduated from Cornell in 1921 with a Bachelor of Arts.

While there, White worked as an editor of a school newspaper and, after graduation, went on to work for the United Press and the American Legion. For a year between 1922 and 1923, he worked as a cub reporter for the Seattle Times. He also wrote for the Seattle Post Intelligencer before moving to Alaska to work on a fire boat.

Literary Career

In 1924 he moved to New York City and began submitting manuscripts to The New Yorker, founded in 1925. He was eventually hired as a staff writer. Unfortunately for him, the job required him to attend office meetings and hit deadlines that he wasn’t used to.

His first article was published in 1925, and while he worked for The New Yorker, he often constructed short, witty comments that were published along with the news. Later in his career, he also worked for Harper’s Magazine. In 1949, E.B. White published a short novel — Here Is New York, that was based on an article he had previously written. The book focused on the city and everything it had to offer, positively and negatively. In 1959, EB White helped edit and updated a famous grammar and style handbook, The Elements of Style, which was first published by William Strunk Jr.

In 1929, he married Katherine Angell. Together they had a son, Joel, who went on to work for the Navy as an architect and boat builder.

It was in the 1930s that White wrote his best-known literary works—his children’s novels. His first children’s book, Stuart Little, was published in 1945. His best-known book, Charlotte’s Web, followed a few years later, in 1952. Both books initially received less-than-ideal welcomes from the literary community. But, as time passed, critics and the public recognized White’s accomplishments. Charlotte’s Web won a Newbery Honor from the American Library Association.

Later Life and Death

In 1973, White’s short story “The Family That Dwelt Apart” served as the basis for an animated short film narrated by White that was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1978, White was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize citing “his letters, essays and the full body of his work.”

E.B. White developed Alzheimer’s disease later in life and died in 1985 at his home in Maine. 

Influence from other Writers

E.B. White was notably influenced by writers like Don Marquis, a newspaper columnist in New York.

Literature by E.B. White

Explore literature by E.B. White below, created by the team at Book Analysis.