Wednesday December 2nd, 2009

“He is a second son.”

eb-whiteTo accompany this week’s review of Thomas Mallon’s book about letters, each day the blog will feature two letters. This one was written by E. B. White to Ursula Nordstrom, his editor at Harper & Row, on November 14, 1945. It’s taken from the thoroughly enjoyable Letters of E. B. White revised and updated by Martha White. (Speaking of Nordstrom, Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom is also a terrific book.)

Dear Miss Nordstrom:

On or two of the Harper ads referred to Stuart as a “mouse.” This is inaccurate and probably better be abandoned. Nowhere in the book (I think I am right about this) is Stuart described as a mouse. He is a small guy who looks very much like a mouse, but he obviously is not a mouse. He is a second son.

There are a great many words that your advertising department can summon for this strange emergency: being, creature, party, customer, fellow, person.

(I am wrong, Stuart is called a mouse on Page 36—I just found it. He should not have been.)

Anyway, you see what I mean.

E. B. White