E. B. White: “Charlotte’s Web”

Portrait of E.B. White

See photo credit below.

This post is dedicated to my mother, Bonnie Burrows.

With illustrations by Garth White (who also penned the drawings for Stuart Little), E.B. White’s 1952 children’s novel, Charlotte’s Web, has sold more than 45 million copies and been translated into 23 languages.

But Charlotte’s Web is more than numbers: it is a beloved classic, dear to the hearts of children and adults alike. Who doesn’t love Wilbur and Charlotte and their supporting cast of characters?

If you’re interested in the natural world behind the novel, you’ll love Awesome Stories’ outstanding, 12-part exploration of the novel, with loads of information about spiders, web spinning, and baby spider ballooning. (Who knew baby spiders really do balloon?!)

An equally riveting consideration of the novel is offered by NPR’s Melissa Block, in a piece titled “Charlotte A. Cavatica: Bloodthirsty, Wise, and True.” (You can read the transcript or listen to the original 13-minute All Things Considered essay.)

Wikipedia also offers insights into the history of the novel, which took White three years to write. And Today in Literature provides another tribute to the novel, this one titled “Hymn to the Barn.”

But really, in the end, there’s no substitute for the novel itself. Of course, the good, old, bread-and-butter Charlotte’s Web might do the trick, but if you’re really hankering for more, check out The Annotated Charlotte’s Web. Want to take it all the way? Check out Michael Sims’s book, The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic.

Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post! If you subscribe to the weekly StoryWeb email and leave a comment here, you’ll be entered into a monthly drawing to win a StoryWeb T-shirt.

Listen to a rare recording of E. B. White reading Chapter 13, in which Charlotte spells the word “TERRIFIC.” You can follow along with the written text as well. The clip is just three minutes long – not nearly long enough! (I could listen to White read all day long!)

Photo used by permission from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EB_cropped.png.