Onward and Upward (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
In the preface to Onward and Upward: A Biography of Katharine S. White, author Linda H. Davis acknowledges that undertaking a biography of Katharine S. White (to whom she frequently refers as KSW) was risky, even “assuming, of course, that I [at the time an unpublished graduate student] could pull it off.” Putting in more than six years of research, during which time she exhausted the available primary sources and established a close bond with KSW’s relatives, Davis labored valiantly to produce a palatable book. Although clearly sympathetic to her subject, whose only direct contact with her had been a thank-you reply to a note praising The Letters of E. B. White (1976), Davis is not blind to her weaknesses and eccentricities. As Davis states: “We were strangers, but she had written to me as to a friend. I sensed that she was lonely and feeling useless.”
All in all, Davis accomplishes the first prerequisite of a biographer: making an elusive personality come alive, as well as the social milieu in which she lived. Those already familiar with The New Yorker’s luminous contributions to the literary arts will especially enjoy learning more about this formidable woman, who, next to founder Harold W. Ross, was probably most responsible for its contents during its first thirty-five years. Although slightly hyperbolic, Davis claims that, as a literary editor, Katharine White “exerted a profound influence on American...
(The entire section is 2180 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Booklist. LXXXIII, June 15, 1987, p. 1540.
Chicago Tribune. VII, June 28, 1987, p. 6.
The Christian Science Monitor. LXXIX, July 1, 1987, p. 24.
Kirkus Reviews. LX, April 15, 1987, p. 611.
Library Journal. CXII, July, 1987, p. 72.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 14, 1987, p. 4.
The New York Times Book Review. XLII, August 9, 1987, p. 17.
The New Yorker. LXIII, August 10, 1987, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, May 8, 1987, p. 56.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, June 28, 1987, p. 3.
(The entire section is 61 words.)