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‘Charlotte’s Web’ turns 60

America’s most beloved spider is celebrating her 60th birthday this month, and as of Nov. 7, the Library will have part of her original manuscript on display.

Published in October 1952, “Charlotte’s Web” became a children’s classic for essayist and author E.B. White, who graduated from Cornell in 1921.

White's barnyard sketchCornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections holds White’s complete archive, which makes up over 200 boxes of documents that cover every aspect of his life and work.

Highlights include:

  • The original first chapter, which was written in longhand and shows White’s own revisions and additions;
  • Detailed sketches of Charlotte and the barnyard;
  • Manuscripts, notes, and galley proofs for “Charlotte’s Web,” as well as “Stuart Little” and “The Elements of Style”;
  • White’s own typewriter, a black Underwood; and
  • Approximately 3,000 letters written by White and 25,000 letters written to him, including early fan mail for “Charlotte’s Web.”

“You can retrace White’s writing process from draft to draft — it’s an invaluable resource for researchers. This is the kind of research that will get more challenging as more and more writers compose on computers rather than by hand,” said Eisha Neely, exhibition coordinator at Cornell University Library.

The public is invited to check out selected materials online and come see the first chapter and first edition of “Charlotte’s Web,” on display as part of a library exhibition that highlights the Library’s extensive collection of children’s books. It opens with a lecture and reception on Nov. 7.

To learn more
Find more information about the upcoming exhibition, “Wardrobes and Rabbit Holes,” or learn more about E.B. White’s archive in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. Visit library.cornell.edu for more information about the Library.

Also, check out a new White book, “In the Words of E. B. White, Quotations from America’s Most Companionable of Writers,” published by Cornell University Press and keep an eye out for “E. B. White on Dogs” in spring 2013.