E.B. White

If a man is to be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most.

I must say I puzzled over the connection between sailing and the man who edited and updated William Strunk’s well-known American handbook of grammar, The Elements of Style. Some of you, however, may be more familiar with White’s children’s books, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both now made into films.

I believe the connection was through his son, Joel White, a naval architect and boat builder.

Elwyn Brooks White was born in 1899 graduated from Cornell University in 1923 after completing his military service. In 1929 he married Katharine Angell, literary editor at The New Yorker, who had got him a job at the magazine in 1927, just two years after it was founded. He remained a contributor for the next 60 years.

In 1978 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize: A Special Award and Citation – Letters: “For his letters, essays and the full body his work.”

White died on 1 October 1985 from Alzheimer’s disease, a sad fate for a writer.

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