The Story of Charlotte's Web
E. B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic
by Michael Sims
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popular book, E. B. White was obeying that oft-repeated maxim: "Write
what you know." Helpless pigs, silly geese, clever spiders, greedy
rats-White knew all of these characters in the barns and stables where
he spent his favorite hours. Painfully shy his entire life, "this boy,"
White once wrote of himself, "felt for animals a kinship he never felt
for people." It's all the more impressive, therefore, how many people
have felt a kinship with E. B. White. With Charlotte's Web, which
has gone on to sell more than 45 million copies, the man William Shawn
called "the most companionable of writers" lodged his own character, the
avuncular author, into the hearts of generations of readers.
Michael Sims shows how White solved what critic Clifton Fadiman once
called "the standing problem of the juvenile-fantasy writer: how to
find, not another Alice, but another rabbit hole" by mining the raw ore
of his childhood friendship with animals in Mount Vernon, New York.
translating his own passions and contradictions, delights and fears,
into an all-time classic. Blending White's correspondence with the likes
of Ursula Nordstrom, James Thurber, and Harold Ross, the E. B. White
papers at Cornell, and the archives of HarperCollins and the New Yorker into
his own elegant narrative, Sims brings to life the shy boy whose animal
stories--real and imaginary--made him famous around the world.
- Bloomsbury Publishing, June 2011
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