E.B. White is best known as the author of the classic children's tales of Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He is also quite well known for writing the 2nd Edition of The Elements of Style, which was a text introduced to him by a former English professor, William Strunk Jr. I really should read it someday.
Elwyn Brooks White was born in 1899, in Mount Vernon, New York. His father had a business making pianos, and did quite well at it. After graduating high school, and a short stint in the Army, White enrolled at Cornell University.
It was there that he first met William Strunk Jr., who was teaching English. While at Cornell, White also wrote for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. He also became a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta.
He graduated from Cornell in 1921, although for the life of me, I cannot find what kind of degree he received. I'm just going to assume it's some form of Liberal Arts degree.
Update: oakling says re E.B. White: i couldn't find his degree either. i thought i would be able to. i view this as a challenge :) so i wrote to the good folks at the cornell alumni page and this is the word so far: "I do not see anything more specific in the living alumni directories and in the 1921 Cornellian than an A.B. and "Arts and Sciences." I suspect E.B. White majored in English, given his work not only as a creative author but also as one half of Strunk and White. Nonetheless I am asking a colleague in the Division to reply to your query with any information that may be more precise. Response time may vary because of the many information requests our Division receives." As this was well over a year ago, I doubt that a response shall be forthcoming anytime soon.
For a few years he worked an assortment of reporting jobs across the country. In 1924, he moved back to New York, where he got himself a job at the newly founded magazine, The New Yorker.
It was here that he met Miss Katherine Sergeant Angell, who was the magazine's literary editor. Well, they got to know each other, as tends to happen, and they married in 1929. They had one son together. Katherine also already had a son, Roger Angell, who became a New Yorker associate editor, and is famous for his baseball commentary. I wish my mom worked at a cool magazine so I could write for them. :)
White wrote for The New Yorker for the rest of his career. He did mostly editorial essays, and various verse. He often speculated about technological progress, and its failure to simplify society, urban and rural life, and international relations. He was a big fan of the United Nations.
In 1938, he moved out to a farm in North Brooklin, Maine, and began writing a column for Harper's magazine about his rural life. He continued writing these essays until 1943, and he published an anthology of them called One Man's Meat.
He also co-wrote Is Sex Necessary? with his friend James Thurber, and A Subtreasury of American Humour with his wife, which were published in 1941.
When they were little, his nieces and nephews would bug him to tell them stories. So, he decided to write his own one day. Although he only wrote three novels for children, all three, Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte's Web (1952), and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970), have become classics beloved by children everywhere.
And, in 1959, White published the 2nd Edition of The Elements of Style, which had been standard reading during his days at Cornell University. Well, his version became standard reading in colleges and high schools across the continent.
Throughout his life he had been granted a number of awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, a gold medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters for his essays and criticisms, and a number of honorary degrees. He was also inducted into the American Academy, and was given the Presidential Medal for Freedom by JFK.
E.B. White passed away on October 1, 1985, from complications due to Alzheimer's disease.