"Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." - E. B. White
Today, E. B. White is perhaps most famous and beloved for his children's books, Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte's Web (1952), and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970). Many of us also know White from the classic The Elements of Style, a slim handbook of stylistic and grammatical guidance, which he edited and updated in 1959 from the original published in 1918 by William Strunk, Jr. But during his lifetime White was most respected as a prolific essayist, columnist, and satirist for The New Yorker and Harper's, writing about urban life, nature, failures of technological progress, war, and internationalism.
Elwyn Brooks White was born in Mount Vernon, NY, in 1899, the youngest of six children - a family White described as "a kingdom unto ourselves." He graduated from Cornell University in 1921, and worked a series of writing jobs before joining the newly established New Yorker, and remained on its staff for the rest of his career. He married the magazine's literary editor, Katherine Sergeant Angell in 1929. In 1939 they moved to a farm in North Brooklin, Maine, where White lived until his death of Alzheimer disease in 1985. He was awarded two American Academy of Arts and Letters gold medals for essays and criticism, and a Pulitzer Prize special citation in 1978. He held honorary degrees from seven American colleges and universities and was a member of The American Academy.
Of writing for children, White says: "Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth. They accept, almost without question, anything you present them with, as long as it is presented honestly, fearlessly, and clearly."
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