"If I can fool a bug... I can surely fool a man. People are not as smart as bugs."

Today (11 July) is writer EB White's birthday. Elwyn Brooks White was born in 1899 in New York, and spent the majority of his adult life working as a non-fiction writer and editor for various news publications.

Luckily, for generations past, present and future he turned his hand to children's literature in the late 1930s, and went onto pen the beloved children's books Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte's Web (1952) and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970).

In honour of his birthday we've taken at look at the inspiration behind his classic stories.

White first began writing children's books on behalf of his nieces and nephews who he would often tell stories to. These stories, and his subsequent books feature animated animal protagonists who seamlessly interact with the human world.

His animal-centric tales were inspired by White's own life experiences; during this period of his life White was living on a farm in Maine, USA with his family and enjoyed keeping animals.

It was within his barnyard he first developed the character of Charlotte, the spider, in Charlotte's Web. He said: "I had been watching a big grey spider at her work and was impressed by how clever she was at weaving. Gradually I worked the spider into the story that you know, a story of friendship and salvation on a farm."

Meanwhile the character of Stuart Little, the mouse, came to White in a dream. He recounted: "I went to bed one night in a railway sleeping car, and during the night I dreamed about a tiny boy who acted rather like a mouse. That's how the story of Stuart Little got started."

The heart-warming friendships, exciting adventures, and loveable, intelligent characters which dominate White's stories have meant that they are still popular amongst youngsters today.

The stories contain valuable lessons for his young readers like the importance of friendship and rather than shying away from tougher topics, White addresses and overcomes them. For example, both Stuart and Louis (The Trumpet of the Swan) are different from the rest of their families, but White shows how these characters are lovingly accepted by their friends and family, and are able to establish a happy life for themselves; a consoling message to those youngsters who perhaps feel they too don't quite fit in.

White took up his second literary field of children's fiction later in life, and we're so pleased he did. Why not celebrate his birthday by familiarising or re-familiarising your family with either Charlotte, Stuart or Louis?

Happy birthday EB White!
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