Elwyn Brooks White was born July 11, 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1921. He began writing, and later joined the newly founded The New Yorker magazine in 1927. This made him moderately famous for the next six decades. He gradually became the most important contributor to The New Yorker at a time when it was arguably the most important American literary magazine.
In the late 1930s he turned his hand to children's fiction on behalf of a niece. His first children's book, Stuart Little, was published in 1945, and Charlotte's Web appeared in 1952. Both were highly acclaimed, and in 1970 jointly won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, a major prize in the field of children's literature. That same year, he published his third children's novel, The Trumpet of the Swan. In 1973, it received the Seqouyah Award from Oklahoma and the William Allen White Award from Kansas. The school children in these states voted and decided this was their "favorite book" of the year.
In 1959 he edited and updated the classic Elements of Style. Originally written and published in 1918 by William Strunk Jr., the book is a handbook of grammatical and stylistic dos and don'ts for written American English. Further editions of the work followed in 1972, 1979, and 1999. It is a standard tool for students and writers.
In 1978 he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for his work as a whole. Mr. White was awarded the 1971 National Medal for Literature. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named Mr. White as one of thirty-one Americans to receive the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Mr. White also received the National Institute of Arts and Letters' Gold Medal for Essays and Criticism, and in 1973 the members of the Institute elected him to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a society of fifty members. He also received honorary degrees from seven colleges and universities. White's style was stereotypically "Yankee": wry, understated, thoughtful, and informed. He was widely regarded as a master of the English language, noted for clear, well-constructed, and charming prose.
White married Katharine Angell in 1929 (also an editor at the magazine and author of Onward and Upward in the Garden) and they had a son, Joel. E. B. White died on October 1, 1985 at his farm home in North Brooklin, Maine and was interred at the Brooklin Cemetery.
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