There are some storybook characters that, no matter how big or small, ingrain themselves in the hearts of everyone that comes across them. Children’s author E.B. White, whose 86th birthday comes to pass this week, was able to create such indelible characters, channeling his emotions through a spider, a mouse, and a swan. Through his anthropomorphic characters in Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, White explored the themes of family and friendship.
In his most famous work, Charlotte’s Web, we see the young pig Wilbur, after being saved by his elegant eight-legged friend, ask her: “Why did you do all this for me?…I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” To which Charlotte replies, “You have been my friend,…That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
White’s three stories have become classic children’s literature for kids all around the world. As of 2010, Charlotte’s Web has been translated into 35 foreign languages. White was often asked if the stories he wrote were based in reality. “No, they are imaginary tales…But real life is only one kind of life — there is also the life of the imagination,” he was quoted as saying.