Conan O’Brien’s high-school letter to E.B. White

Conan O’Brien graduated from Brookline High School in 1981. As a junior, the teenager who was not yet a beloved TV writer and late-night host apparently wasn’t feeling much love for the game. Until he got a hold of some E.B. White.

White, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker known far and wide for authoring Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, and co-authoring The Elements of Style, was in his early 80s himself.

Today, O’Brien treated us to a #TBT surprise, writing on Twitter: “A few weeks ago on my podcast, I mentioned a letter I wrote to E.B. White when I was in high school. The good people at E. B. White’s archives in @Cornell_Library managed to track that letter down.”

O’Brien wrote as a young fan, having read White’s essays via a gift as well as his English class. “It was there that I discovered (actually I was told) that the reason I enjoyed you so much was because of your honesty and natural style. Whatever the reason, I thought I should tell you that I enjoyed both your letters and your essays very much. I’ve been thinking of becoming a writer, but I hear that even the best are criticized and I don’t take criticism well.”

Teen O’Brien closed by writing, “Thank you for restoring my faith in education, and especially, essay writing.”

Here’s the reply!

A good reminder to keep the faith, let the ones you love know you love them, and also keep your facts straight.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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