July 11, 2013

Happy 114th Birthday, E. B. White!

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

As writers striving to craft brilliant prose, the magic of our words on paper then goes through the edit process. What is the one book in every writer's library? 

Yup, the standard style manual for writing, "The Elements of Style", a mainstay of high-school and college English courses in the U.S. Quick, do you remember the authors? The title of the blog post is a big hint. Yes, E.B. White with his former professor, William Strunk Jr.. Strunk had privately printed the book, which had gone out of print. White did a revision of the original, adding and expanding chapters and content. The book is still considered the staple for any author's library. A favorite principle in the book states; "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary part." Personally, I salute a now retired teacher, Suzanne Wexler for guiding every one of her students to become writers by using this book. She made sure they knew E. B. White was the same author of their favorite children's chapter books 

In 1927, White joined The New Yorker as a staffer. White, along with another great writer, James Thurber, shaped the magazine’s tone and direction. The New Yorker was at it's toddler stage having been founded in 1925. E. B. White was an active contributory of essays, poems and other articles during the years of The Great Depression and the recovery years.

Today, July 11, marks E. B. White 114th birthday, best known for his wonder-filled classic children books that weave magical stories. “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little” and “The Trumpet of the Swan" are all family favorites.

E. B. wrote, "A farm is a peculiar problem for a man who likes animals, because the fate of most livestock is that they are murdered by their benefactors." Particularly fond of his pigs, he felt guilty about turning them into ham and bacon. Walking one day through his orchard, he got an idea for a story about how a pig's life could be saved. He said, "I had been watching a large spider in the back-house, and what with one thing and another, the idea came to me." 
Writing to his editor he penned, "My next book is in sight. I look at it every day. I keep it in a carton as you would a kitten." As many know, this idea blossomed into his second book, "Charlotte's Web."

All three books have sold millions and have been made into successful films. Even now, they are still required reading for school children, thankfully. These books are true gems because they explore more adult themes of loyalty, tolerance, and courage. 

E. B. White, wrote, "All I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world". Well said, Mr. White and Happy 114th Birthday, thank you for your legacy!

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