White House Dream Team: Elwyn Brooks White

Drawing of Elwyn Brooks White Elwyn Brooks White

Elwyn Brooks White, known as E.B. White, started writing at an early age even though he found writing difficult at times. E.B. developed patience as he carefully developed his graceful writing style. This young writer attended Cornell University and left to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I. After the war, he returned to Cornell, where he served as editor of the school newspaper. After graduation, E.B. headed west and worked as a newspaper reporter in Seattle. He eventually returned to New York and began writing articles and essays for The New Yorker magazine in 1929. During his early career, he met and married his wife, Katharine Angell, and they later had a son.

E.B. longed for a quiet, peaceful life compared to city living, and so he moved his family to Maine in 1939 and built a farm in the country. He continued to write for The New Yorker magazine and used the themes of nature and independence in his writings. The quiet, restful nature of the farm allowed E.B. to patiently write and craft his essays and stories.

On his farm in Maine, E.B.'s animals inspired him to write children's books. His first book, Stuart Little, told the tale of an adventurous mouse who lived with a human family. E.B. intended to write the story to entertain his six-year-old niece, but by the time he finished the story, she had grown up. His next book, Charlotte's Web, told the story of a friendship between a pig and a spider. E.B. found inspiration for the story by watching a big gray spider cleverly weave a web. He worked the spider into a story of friendship and salvation on a farm. E.B. also wrote The Trumpet of the Swan, many magazine articles, and a guidebook on grammar and writing called The Elements of Style. This writer from Maine received many awards for his contributions to children's literature, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award presented by the American Library Association in 1970 and a special Pulitzer Prize in 1978.

Brain Challenge:

  1. What characteristic did E.B. develop as he practiced his writing?
  2. Name the magazine that employed E.B.?
  3. Why did E.B. move to a farm in 1939?
  4. What inspired E.B. to write children's stories?
  5. Name one of E.B. children's books.
Share your answers with a parent, teacher or other adult.

Want to learn more?
Visit your school or public library to learn more about these fascinating Americans.

July 11, 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York

October 1, 1985 in North Brooklin, Maine

To write

Cornell University, New York

Author of children's books that are considered classics

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