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Letter from E.B. White

Enjoy a letter written by this revered author.
Grades:
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5
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Letter from E.B. White


This is the letter that Mr. White wrote before his death about his three books for children:

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 arecommonly asked.

Where did I get the idea for Stuart Little and for Charlotte's Web? Well,many years ago I went to bed one night in a railway sleeping car, andduring the night I dreamed about a tiny boy who acted rather like a mouse. That's howthe story of Stuart Little got started.

As for Charlotte's Web, I like animals and my barn is a very pleasantplace to be, at all hours. One day when I was on my way to feed the pig, I began feeling sorry for the pig because, like most pigs, he was doomed to die.This made me sad. So I started thinking of ways to save a pig's life. I had been watching a big grey spider at her work and was impressed by how clever shewas at weaving. Gradually I worked the spider into the story that you know, astory of friendship and salvation on a farm. Three years after I started writingit, it was published. (I am not a fast worker, as you can see.)

Sometimes I'm asked how old I was when I started to write, and what mademe want to write. I started early -- as soon as I could spell. Infact, I can't remember any time in my life when I wasn't busy writing. I don't know what caused me to do it, or why I enjoyed it, but I think children often find pleasure and satisfaction is trying to set their thoughts down on paper,either in words or in pictures. I was no good at drawing, so I used words instead.As I grew older, I found that writing can be a way of earning a living.

Some of my readers want me to visit their school. Some want me to send a picture, or an autograph, or a book. And some ask questions about myfamily and my animals and my pets. Much as I'd like to, I can't go visiting. Ican't send books, either -- you can find them in a bookstore or a library. Many children assume that a writer owns (or even makes) his own books. This isnot true -- books are made by the publisher. If a writer wants a copy, he must buy it. That's why I can't send books. And I do not send autographs -- Ileave that to the movie stars. I live most of the year in the country, in New England.From our windows we can look out at the sea and the mountains. I live near mymarried son and three grandchildren.

Are my stories true, you ask? No, they are imaginary tales, containing fantastic characters and events. In real life, a family doesn't have achild who looks like a mouse; in real life, a spider doesn't spin words in her web. Inreal life, a swan doesn't blow a trumpet. But real life is only one kind oflife -- there is also the life 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.

Yours sincerely,

E.B. White

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