Picks and Pans Review: E.b. White: a Biography

updated 02/27/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Scott Elledge

Writers do not necessarily lead interesting lives. E.B. White's long life (he is 84) is a case in point. He is not a celebrity author, or one whose daily life has been filled with the stuff of anecdotes. If one has read Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan and the collected White columns (from Harper's), essays (from the New Yorker) and letters, there is little new to be found in this volume. What makes it agreeable, however, is that the author, a professor of English at Cornell, White's alma mater, has had the good sense to quote his subject on almost every page. There is a unifying thread of old-fashioned good sense in White's writing; reviewers of this biography should, following Elledge's good example, simply quote something. Here's White with a bit of psychiatric advice after his own experience with a breakdown: "If you ever bust up from nerves, take frequent shower baths, drink dry sherry in small amounts, spend most of your time with hand tools at a bench, and play old records till there is no wax left in the grooves." (Norton, $22.50)

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