American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

WHITE, E[LWYN]. B[ROOKS]. (1899-1983). Best known for his articles in The New Yorker and his children’s books, E. B. White reflected significantly upon his relationship with the sea in two important essays, “The Years of Wonder” and “The Sea and the Wind That Blows.” The first, written on 13 March 1961 and originally appearing in The New Yorker, recounts his time aboard the steamer Buford in 1923. White began the round-trip voyage from Seattle to Siberia as a passenger but became a crew member once on board, thus experiencing the sea in a new way. “The Sea and the Wind That Blows” was written in the winter of 1963 and originally published in Ford Times. It addresses his lifelong affection for the sea and his lasting relationship with it, even in old age. Both works were reprinted in Essays of E. B. White (1977).

Raised on the Maine coast, White sailed for pleasure during his boyhood. Through adulthood he maintained his connection to the sea by building, operating, buying, and selling various watercraft. White’s family has maintained an interest in the sea and in traditional boats. Prior to his death in 1997, his son, Joel White, was a craftsman and master designer of wooden sailboats at the Brooklin Boat Yard, in Brooklin, Maine, which he owned and operated. Douglas Whynott’s A Unit of Water, a Unit of Time: Joel White’s Last Boat (1999) is a reverent portrait chronicling White’s effort, while battling cancer, to complete his final design, the W-76, a wooden racing boat. Whynott’s earlier book, Giant Bluefin (1995), focuses on tuna fishing on Massachusetts Bay and the politically charged conflicts between the fishermen and conservationists.

Hillary Frey and Mira Dock