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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A writing lifetime of achievement

“I have never been bored an hour in my life. I get up every morning wondering what new strange glamorous thing is going to happen and it happens at fairly regular intervals.” – William Allen White

Newspaper editor, politician, author, and leader of the Progressive movement, White—who along with his wife Sallie are part of my cast of characters in the book And The Wind Whispered – became the iconic spokesman for middle America.  Almost from the day he took over the paper in 1895 until his death in 1944, he was writing as a champion of the “average” American, building his newspaper, his own reputation, and his community in the process. 
With his warm sense of humor, articulate editorial pen, and commonsense approach to life, White soon became known throughout the country and the writing world, earning a Pulitzer Prize for himself and his newspaper in the process. His Gazette editorials were widely reprinted; he wrote syndicated stories on politics; and did biographies of Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge. "What's the Matter With Kansas?" and "Mary White" — a beautiful tribute to his 16-year-old daughter on her accidental death in 1921— were his best-known editorials, but many others helped shape middle American life and national politics.  Present the facts fairly and honestly,” he said, “(and) truth will take care of itself.”
William Allen White

So influential was White that every President from Theodore to Franklin Roosevelt stopped in Emporia for his counsel, and Franklin asked him to lead a national effort to generate support for the Allies in 1940 while the U.S. was still officially “neutral.” 

During his lifetime, he had 22 books published and along with longtime friend Dorothy Canfield, he founded the Book of the Month Club, a great boon for readers and writers alike.  Today, both the University of Kansas School of Journalism and the Emporia State University Library are named in his honor.

Visiting the Emporia Gazette in the heart of Emporia, KS
Photo by Susan Jorgensen

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