MAINE, USA — It's a story that captured the imaginations of compassionate children and told the almost impossible tale of a spider and pig that found an enviable friendship on a farm.
Charlotte's Web is an American classic, and today, its author would have been 120 years old.
E.B. White was born in New York on July 11, 1899. He authored three children's books, including the famous Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. He also revised esteemed The Elements of Style, originally by William Strunk Jr., that acts as a standard manual for aspiring writers.
Though White's work has had an impact on people young and older throughout the country (and, quite possibly, around the world), the Pine Tree State had a special place in White's heart.
He passed away at the age of 86 years old at his home in Brooklin, Maine.
What's more -- that home was actually an inspiration for the setting of Charlotte's Web.
In 2017, NEWS CENTER Maine got a full tour of the beautifully timeless white farmhouse. It was going up for sale by married couple Mary and Robert Gallant, who had purchased the property right after White died.
They had lived there for about 30 years.
Pictures from Yankee Magazine feature a grand old wood-stove, quaint kitchen table, and austere barn overlooking a sprawling field. The home has 12 rooms, three and a half bathrooms, and six working fireplaces.
White's granddaughter, Martha White, told the magazine she hopes the house will always be occupied by someone. She says E.B. didn't want it to become a shrine, or museum, or writers' retreat.
On Thursday, writer Melissa Sweet stopped by NEWS CENTER Maine to share a little bit of what she knows about the author's life. Though White was notoriously reclusive, Sweet learned a lot about him while writing and illustrating biography, Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White, designed specifically for young readers.
"I wanted the book to be for young readers so that they could learn that E.B. White wrote much more than the three children's books we know him for," Sweet told NEWS CENTER Maine. "All of it is accessible to any age, I'd say."
Sweet says White's connection to Maine is woven throughout his work. He was actually inspired to write Charlotte's Web when he saw a spider spinning its web after his pig died. That moment became the "genesis" of the beloved tale.
"The farm influenced and fed the writing for sure," Sweet expressed.
Sweet says other writers should take inspiration from White's legacy.
"Read everything he wrote," Sweet urged. "He was a wordsmith. He was spare and to the point with a lot of humor."
Happy birthday, E.B. White! Here's to another 120 years remembering your impact on literary history, children's fiction, and the special state of Maine.