Posts Tagged ‘E.B. White’

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” Happy birthday, E.B. White!

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Oh, and he loved animals, too.

E.B. White penned what is arguably the greatest children’s book of all time, Charlotte’s Web. He also wrote a classic handbook for writers everywhere, The Elements of Style. But he was also a great promoter of mankind in general and an indefatigable letter-writer.

Today is his 121st birthday (he died in 1985). We celebrate with a letter he wrote on March 30, 1973, to a despondent man who had lost hope in humanity:

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


E. B. White

Oh, and the White quotation that forms the headline for this story in Kate DiCamillo‘s foreword to Charlotte’s Web.