E.B White Writes . . .

Dear Reader

I receive many letters from children and can’t answer them all – there wouldn’t be time enough in a day. That is why I am sending you this printed reply to your letter. I’ll try to answer some of the questions that are commonly asked.

Where did I get the idea for STUARTstuartlitt LITTLE and for CHARLOTTE’S WEB?

Well, many yearsago I went to bed one night in a railwaysleeping car, and during the night I dreamedabout a tiny boy who acted rather like amouse. That’s how the story of StuartLittle got started.

As for CHARLOTTE’S WEB, I like animals and my barn is a very pleasant place to be, at all hours. One day when I wason my way to feed the pig, I began feeling sorryfor the pig because, like most pigs, he wasdoomed to die. This made me sad. SoI started thinking of ways to savea pig’s life. I had been watchinga very big grey spider at her workand was impressed by how clevershe was at weaving. Gradually I worked the spider into the story that you know, a story offriendship and salvation on a farm. Three years after I started writing it, it was published.

I don’t know how or when the idea for THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN occurred to me. I guess I must have wondered what itwould be like to be a Trumpeter Swan and not be able to makea noise.

SpiderSometimes I’m asked how old I was when I started to write, and what made me want to write. I started early – as soonas I could spell. In fact, I can’t remember any time in my lifewhen I wasn’t busy writing. I don’t know what caused me to doit, or why I enjoyed it, but I think children often find pleasureand satisfaction in trying to set their thoughts down on paper,either in words or in pictures.

As I grew older, I found that writing can be a way of earning a living. Are my stories true, you ask? No, they are imaginary tales,containing fantastic characters and events. In real life, a familydoesn’t have a child who looks like a mouse; in real life, a spiderdoesn’t spin words in her web. In real life, a swan doesn’t blow atrumpet. But real life is only one kind of life – there is also thelife of the imagination. And although my stories are imaginary,I like to think that there is some truth in them, too – truthabout the way people and animals feel and think and act.

PigThank you all for your wonderful letters – I love to get them even though I cannot answer each one personally.

Yours sincerely

E. B. White


Win a Yurt weekend with 20 puffins*

To celebrate the publication of the new A PUFFIN BOOK collection, we’ve teamed up with Virgin Experience Days. Enter our competition for your chance to win a weekend in a Yurt at Meon Springs. Escape to the Hampshire countryside which inspired Richard Adams’ Watership Down and pop over to the neighbouring farm where Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig maybe conversing, before ending the day gathered around the campfire and reading from your favourite A PUFFIN BOOK.  Head over to our website to enter .

*books not birds

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