White, E. B.

White, E. B.

White, E. B. (Elwyn Brooks White), 1899–1985, American writer, b. Mt. Vernon, N.Y., grad. Cornell, 1921. A witty, satiric observer of contemporary society, White was a member of the staff of the early New Yorker; some of his “Talk of the Town” columns were collected in The Wild Flag (1946). In addition to this work and much light, graceful, and humorous verse, he wrote Is Sex Necessary? (with James Thurber, 1929), Quo Vadimus? (1939), One Man's Meat (1942), Here Is New York (1949), and The Points of My Compass (1962). He also penned three delightful stories for children, Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte's Web (1952), and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970). A superb literary stylist himself, White undertook a noted revision of The Elements of Style (1959) by William Strunk, Jr., and with his wife, Katherine, he edited A Subtreasury of American Humor (1941).


See his selected essays (1977); letters, ed. by D. L. Guth (1976, 1989; rev. ed. also ed. by M. White, 2007); biography by S. Elledge (1984); study by E. C. Sampson (1974).

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White, E. B. (Elwyn Brooks)

(1899–1985) writer, editor; born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He attended Cornell University (1917–21), worked as a reporter on the Seattle Times (1922–23), then settled in New York City as an advertising copywriter (1924–25). From 1926 on he was a contributing editor of the New Yorker magazine, and became known for his impeccable prose style and his personal and ironic essays. Married to New Yorker fiction editor, Katherine White (1929), he moved with her to North Brooklin, Maine (1938), writing a column for Harper's magazine, "One Man's Meat" (1938–43), and numerous pieces for the New Yorker. He wrote children's classics, such as Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte's Web (1952), and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970). He also published books of poetry, essays, and a revision of a grammar and composition text originally written by William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style (1959).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.