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White's Country Critters, Still Humble

And “Charlotte’s Web” is a sneakily sophisticated fable. White certainly appreciated the joys of life on the farm (while evading some of its bloodier aspects), but the book is really about the benevolent, even miraculous power of celebrity. It is, most simply, the story of a spider, Charlotte A. Cavitica, who saves the life of a pig named Wilbur by making him famous. She is a gifted writer whose chosen…

The grudging emergence of American journalism's classic editorial: New details about ''Is There A Santa Claus?''

“Is There A Santa Claus?” was published 21 September 1897, more than three months before the Christmas holiday. It was placed in the third of three columns of editorials that day, subordinate to seven other commentaries on such matters as “British Ships in American Waters,” ambiguity in Connecticut’s election law, and features of the chainless bicycle anticipated in 1898. [2] Although it was published at a time when newspaper editors…