Mar 17 • 4M

She doesn't answer the phone

E. B. White responds to the ASPCA

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History's most interesting letters.
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The following letter can be found in the book, Letters of Note: Dogs, which, as the title suggests, is a collection of notable letters about dogs. The audio, featuring the one and only Toby Jones, is from the accompanying audiobook.


E. B. White and a colleague at work. Photo: Getty.

American writer E.B. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1899, and by the time of his death, aged eighty-six, he had truly mastered the art of storytelling. His children’s novels include such classics as Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. White adored animals. According to his granddaughter Martha, he owned, at various points in his life, more than a dozen dogs that she knew of—many different breeds, numbering collies, setters, Labrador retrievers, Scotties, terriers and dachshunds among them. His letters, too, are littered with references to his four-legged friends, but none so charming as this one, written in response to an accusation by the ASPCA that he had failed to pay his dog tax and, as a result, was ‘harbouring’ an unlicensed dog.

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