Ben Yagoda wrote a history of The New Yorker magazine, and in that book he refers to E.B. White as New Yorker editor Harold Ross’ “most valued contributor.”
White also provided a great quote for a piece Yagoda published about commas on The New York Times website this week.
“Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim,” White once said.
A lovely image, to be sure. But it’s rivaled by the correction about White that was later added to Yagoda’s piece:
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the number of years E.B. White wrote for The New Yorker. It was five decades, not centuries.
I asked Yagoda if the mistake was his, or if it was inserted by an editor.
“Craig, I appreciate your courteous question … but can you really imagine that an editor would insert that?” he replied by email. “Simple explanation: I goofed by letting a common phrase roll off my fingers. And it’s so common that it just slipped by all the editors.”
On the plus side, I told Yagoda, his error gave birth to a timeless correction.