BROOKLIN, Maine — It has been 75 years since E.B. White's first children's novel about an enchanting little mouse, small in size but enormous in spirit, delighted readers. Stuart Little was published in 1945.
Although E.B. White was not originally from Maine he spent much of his life, 48 years, starting in childhood, in the Pine Tree State, and his novels are injected with the imagery and spirit of the state.
E.B.'s granddaughter, Martha White remembers her hands-one grandfather from her home in Rockport. Stuart Little is her favorite of her grandfather's novels. She even has the copy E.B. gifted her when she was just 10 years old but she admits he never read it to her. The award-winning author didn't read much to his grandchildren but rather took them outside to explore the natural world that he himself was so fond of.
"He was a terrific grandfather," remembers Martha White. "With my grandfather, we would go out into the barn and collect the hen's eggs, or go down to the shore and play in the water...or walk in the woods with the dogs. He loved being outdoors and he loved children."
As Martha recalls, Stuart Little was inspired by a dream that E.B. had on a train while commuting from New York City where he worked for the New Yorker to his property in Maine. The dream was about a boy who acted and looked like a mouse. He wrote the dream down and developed it into a story for his young nieces who wanted to hear tales when they visited E.B. The author was allegedly not one for thinking up stories on the spot and the story he wrote for his nieces would later become some of the early chapters of Stuart Little.
Martha says Stuart Little resembles her grandfather; dapper and wiry, falls in love hard and has a natural inclination for adventure and the great outdoors. Martha says it is a privilege to carry on her grandfather's name. "It is wonderful to watch how these children's books have stood the test of time."