12 E.B. White facts to honour the 70th birthday of Charlotte's Web, which was first published in 1952. Everything you need to know about the prolific author and this much-loved book.
This October marks 70 years since E.B. White changed the course of children’s literature with the publication of his much-loved novel Charlotte’s Web.
In honour of this milestone, we’re sharing 12 facts about the author and the beloved book.
Everything you need to know about E.B. White
- E.B. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York in 1899. He was the youngest of six children in his family.
- His book, Charlotte’s Web has been a favourite since it was first published in 1952. It has been called ‘the best children’s book of all time’ and made several other lists of top children’s books.
- E.B. stands for Elwyn Brooks, but once he started university at Cornell, he began going by Andy. The first president of Cornell University was named Andrew White, so there was a tradition at the school that all students who also had the last name White got the nickname Andy.
- He loved animals so much that he published an obituary for his dog, Daisy, in The New Yorker.
- White disliked publicity so much that when unexpected visitors came to meet him at his office, he’d hide on the fire escape to avoid them. He’d likewise avoid interviews, public speaking engagements and photographers.
- He married a fellow wordsmith, fiction editor of The New Yorker, Katharine Sergeant Angell. They married in 1929 and then moved to a farmhouse in Maine, which later served as inspiration for Charlotte’s Web.
- White preferred outdoor activities to reading and was an avid sailor.
- It took the author three years to write Charlotte’s Web, during which he reworked the book several times, including eight iterations of the first page.
- He is best known for his fiction, but E.B. White also wrote non-fiction and poetry.
- E.B. White was a procrastinator. He called his procrastinations ‘delays’, during which he’d walk around the room tidying things up until the only thing left to do was sit down and write.
- In his old age, E.B. White suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. As his memory started to go, his son Joel would read his books to him, even though White often forget that he himself was the author. Sometimes he would complain that the writing wasn’t good enough, but at passages he liked, he’d ask who wrote the words. When Joel reminded him that he was the author, E.B. would reply, ‘Well, not bad’.
- In 1999, TIME Magazine named Charlotte’s Web the best children’s book of the 20th century.
Time to revisit Charlotte's Web? Check out this stunning clothbound edition.
How a little cartoon bird became the icon of stories for kids.
See how our talented employees contributed to Not Here to Make You Comfortable.
Series like Ranger’s Apprentice to read next.
Peek inside Anna Zobel’s new book, This Camp Is Doomed.
This compendium for kids is a fascinating look into the secrets of the supernatural world.
Do your sleuthing skills stack up to Friday's? Test attention to detail with this quiz about the Friday Barnes books to see whether you have what it takes to be a detective.
And it’s the perfect excuse to re-read her works.
We caught up with author Tim Harris and illustrator Shiloh Gordon to learn about their new series, Ratbags.
Find out which character you’re most like from Tim Harris and Shiloh Gordon’s fun new children’s series, Ratbags.
We caught up with Frances O’Connor to learn about her latest directorial project: EMILY. Based on the life of Emily Brontë, it’s sure to delight fans of classic literature.
Print and customise this Ranger’s Apprentice holiday card to share with your loved ones this year.
Learn how to make the mince pies that Jenny brings to the Harvest Day picnic with her fellow apprentices.