A Few Words about E.B. White

The November/December issue of Writer’s Journal features an article about one of my favorite writers, E. B. White.

A Washington Crossings, PA writer, Gail Friend, wrote the piece, “The Elements of Style: A Timeless Teacher,” based on an interview she did with White’s daughter-in-law, Allene White, in Maine. The article reaches back in time to give readers a delightful look at the personality and work habits of E. B. White, who wrote, among many other things, two famous books that children love, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, and a famous book that is a boon to writers, The Elements of Style.

To give you a quick peek into Friend’s article, I’d like to include here one question and answer from the article:

G.F. Do you remember what he would say about writers finding their own style of writing?
Ms. White: Everyone has their own voice. You have to write about what you know and really understand. He didn’t believe in using words that most people wouldn’t understand. He would go directly to the point. His writing was very spare. He would cross out more than he left in and he wrote and rewrote constantly. I think One Man’s Meat, a book about E.B.’s life here in Maine, was perhaps the point where he found his voice. The last chapter of The Elements of Style has some things to say about style.”

I found a lot of other fascinating things in Gall Friend’s article, including the fact that E.B. White was a great jazz fan. I was not surprised to find that he loved the Rocky Mountains and anything to do with animals and the natural world — that love was evident in his children’s books.

The magazine is on the newsstands now if you’d like to read the entire interview.

© 2008 Laverne Daley

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