E. B. White (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
A few years ago, accepting an award for his writing, E(lwyn) B(rooks) White said, “I feel that a writer has an obligation to transmit, as best he can, his love of life, his appreciation for the world.” White transmitted this love and appreciation for more than a half century in the pages of The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine, in several books of selections from his magazine contributions, and in three children’s books that have become classics.
Scott Elledge’s E. B. White, the first biography of White, is excellent in its portrayal of one of America’s premier essayists and in its appreciative treatment of his work. One often feels, reading the book, that the biographer himself displays, as if by absorption, what he calls the quickness, precision, and grace of mind of his subject.
White began early as a writer, winning at the age of ten a prize from a women’s magazine for a poem about a mouse, and prizes at eleven and fourteen from St. Nicholas Magazine, a magazine for children. At Cornell University, he was editor in chief of the campus newspaper in his junior year. After graduation, there was no question about his trying to make his living as a writer (though his father had hoped he would become a lawyer), but he was to travel some bumpy side roads for several years before he reached the highway to success.
White’s travel was literal after he left Cornell in 1921. The next...
(The entire section is 1329 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Business Week. February 27, 1984, p. 12.
Choice. XXI, June, 1984, p. 1464.
Christian Science Monitor. LXXVI, April 18, 1984, p. 21.
Library Journal. CIX, January, 1984, p. 81.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. February 19, 1984, p. 2.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, February 26, 1984, p. 9.
The New Yorker. LX, April 30, 1984, p. 112.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXV, January 6, 1984, p. 74.
Time. CXXIII, February 13, 1984, p. 69.
The Wall Street Journal. CCIII, February 24, 1984, p. 30.
(The entire section is 57 words.)