In the Words of E. B. White

In the Words of E. B. White: Quotations from America's Most Companionable of Writers

Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    In the Words of E. B. White
    Book Description:

    In the Words of E. B. White offers readers a delightful selection of quotations, selected and annotated by his granddaughter and literary executor, Martha White. The quotations cover a wide range of subjects and situations, from Automobiles, Babies, Bees, City Life, and College to Spiders, Taxes, Weather, Work, and Worry. E. B. White comments on writing for children, how to tell a major poet from a minor one, and what to do when one becomes hopelessly mired in a sentence. White was apt to address the subject of security by speaking first about a Ferris wheel at the local county fair, or the subject of democracy from the perspective of roofing his barn and looking out across the bay-he had a gift for bringing the abstract firmly into the realm of the everyday. Included here are gems from White's books and essay collections, as well as bits from both published and unpublished letters and journals.

    This is a book for readers and writers, for those who know E. B. White from his "Notes and Comment" column in The New Yorker, have turned to The Elements of Style for help in crafting a polished sentence, or have loved a spider's assessment of Wilbur as "Some Pig." This distillation of the wit, style, and humanity of one of America's most distinguished essayists of the twentieth century will be a welcome addition to any reader's bookshelf.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6366-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION: “A Simple and Sincere Account”
    (pp. 1-40)

    When I was born, my grandfather (1899–1985) was fifty-five, exactly my age when I finished this book project that has allowed me, for the second time, to spend a year reading through the greater part of his work. (The first time was when I was editing the revised edition of the Letters of E. B. White to include letters from the final decade of his life.) For years now, my office has been cluttered with the offshoots of his office: shelves of his books; boxes of Blackwing pencils; old family scrapbooks and photographs; and a wooden model of Flounder,...

    (pp. 41-46)

    Elwyn Brooks White was born to Samuel Tilly White and Jessie (Hart) White in Mount Vernon, New York, the youngest of six children: Marion, Clara, Albert, Stanley, Lillian, and Elwyn.

    Attended Mount Vernon High School; published in the school’s Oracle.

    Enrolled at Cornell University; earned his nickname, Andy, after Cornell’s first president, Andrew D. White.

    Registered for the draft, but was rejected for not weighing enough. Enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps at Cornell. (Armistice was declared in November.)

    Editor-in-Chief at the Cornell Daily Sun.

    Graduated from Cornell. Declined a teaching position and went to work (briefly) for the...

    (pp. 47-220)

    I was born in 1899, which was a big mistake. Should have waited.

    — Letter to Eleanor Gould Packard, October 20, 1982; The E. B. White Collection, Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

    You know what they were doing, don’t you, the year I was born—they were beginning to demolish the reservoir at 42nd and Fifth to make way for a public library to house the books that little Elwyn White would write when he got big enough to hold a pencil. I saw my first circus in Stanford White’s yellow brick Madison Square Garden, holding tight...

    (pp. 221-226)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 227-232)