Monday, 20 August 2012

LETTERS OF NOTE: E. B. White is Too Busy to Write

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Today's Letter of Note concerned much-loved children's author E. B. White, the creator of Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.

In March 1961 White received a letter from a young fan asking when his next children's book would be coming out. White replied that he was so busy answering fan mail that he would probably never get round to it, unless the girl started a campaign where people refused to write to him until he produced another book.

 
White's reply found its way to the young girl's librarian, who returned it with disapproving comments about White's "cruel tone". White's letter to the librarian, defending his response, can be found here.

One of White's big arguments surrounding the delay was that it was difficult to produce quality work while trying to live up to his reputation. He cites the example of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, who never wrote another book and struggled to live her life in the face of its celebrity. Doubtless the same comments could be applied to the life of Truman Capote, or in a different way to Harper Lee. Because, as White puts it, "being an author is a silly way to spend one's day".

Daniel

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