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    Garth Williams. Illustration #37, Charlotte's Web.

    Garth Williams. Original preliminary drawing for illustration #37 (appearing on page 141) of Charlotte's Web, 1952: Templeton snickers. Pencil on paper. 10.875 x 8.5 inches. Initialed by Williams at lower right. Fine.

    As the placement of this illustration does not seem to match the concurrent storyline, it is likely that this is the drawing that Williams had proposed as the book's frontispiece illustration. In his book The Annotated Charlotte's Web, Peter F. Neumeyer quotes from a letter that White wrote to editor Ursula Nordstrom: "No ... Unsuitable for use opposite title page, I think, because it might suggest that this book is a sequel to Stuart. I like the drawing itself, and would like to see it used in the body of the text but not opposite title page. ... I feel that it would be dishonest to put the rat in the lead-off position -- give people the wrong idea" (Neumeyer, p. xxxiii-xxxiv). White's rejection was conveyed rather diplomatically in a letter to Williams from Nordstrom's secretary a week later: "We all think Mr. White is perfectly right about the use of picture 'a' on the page opposite the title page. But since there'll be a picture of Charlotte on the title page, we don't want to use another picture of her [sic] on the opposite page, so it will probably be left blank. It hasn't been decided yet just where we will use 'a,' but it's such a wonderful picture, I know we'll want to put it in somewhere. If you come up with any ideas for a good location for it, I know Miss Nordstrom would be delighted to hear them. (It's the picture showing Templeton leaning against a board and snickering -- one of those used in the dummy)" (from a letter to Williams from Mary Russell, dated June 30, 1952). Presumably, this drawing is the picture "a" referred to in the letter. As it turned out, there was no illustration used as a frontispiece, but a detail from this picture -- apparently a favorite of Williams, White, and the staff at Harper -- eventually made it into the body of the story as an illustration. From the Estate of Garth Williams.


    More Information: Peter F. Neumeyer. The Annotated Charlotte's Web. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    7th-9th Thursday-Saturday
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