Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wht* + Whit* (for White, etc.)

A search on Wht* + Whit* brings up 179 hits in WorldCat and 16 in OhioLINK, but only about half of the latter are typos for the word/name White*. Some contain the gloss "sic," while others are acronyms (like radio station call letters) or parts of a URL; still others are typos for words like what and why. Elwyn Brooks White (more commonly known as E. B. White) was born in 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York, and graduated from Cornell in 1921. He settled in New York City in 1924 to take a job with the New Yorker, where he wrote magazine pieces for 11 years. In 1929, he married Katherine Angell, the New Yorker's literary editor, and in 1939 they removed to a farm in Brooklin, Maine. White was the author of the children's classic Charlotte's Web and its several sequels, along with numerous books of poems and essays, such as the wonderfully titled Quo Vadimus? Or the Case for the Bicycle. In 1959, he resurrected and revised The Elements of Style, a writing manual that had been privately published by his old English professor William Strunk in 1919. In his essay Here Is New York, White rather eerily seems to presage the attack of September 11, 2001, when he writes: "A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate millions.... Of all targets New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm."

(E. B. White's Cornell University senior photograph, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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