James Thurber Biography






American writer James Thurber published stories and cartoons that focused on the difficulties of modern life. He is best known for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a short story of an ordinary man who believes he is a hero. Thurber also was known for his cartoons of small men tormented by large wives.

James Thurber (1894-1961), American cartoonist and author, whose writings, which range from gentle whimsy to irony, gained him a place as one of America's greatest 20th-century humorists. Thurber's cartoons, often depicting melancholy-looking animals or oversized wives bedeviling undersized husbands, are also much admired.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Thurber was educated at Ohio State University. He later worked as a code clerk for the State Department and subsequently went to France, where he worked for the French edition of the Chicago Tribune. He moved to New York City in 1926 and worked as a reporter for the Evening Post. In 1927, Thurber became staff writer and managing editor of The New Yorker; he continued to contribute stories and cartoons long after he left the magazine in 1933. Thurber was the author of many successful books that focus on the frustrations of average men faced with the overwhelming pressures of everyday modern life. Is Sex Necessary? (1929) was written with the American writer E. B. White. It was followed by The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities (1931), My Life and Hard Times (1933), The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935), Let Your Mind Alone! (1937), and Fables for Our Time (1940). The Male Animal (1940) is a play written with the American actor and playwright Elliott Nugent. Thurber's best-known story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1942), is about an ordinary man who imagines himself as a hero. The Thirteen Clocks (1950) and The Wonderful O (1957) are two popular books for children. The Years with Ross (1959) is an account of Thurber's life on The New Yorker. Failing eyesight caused him to give up cartooning in the last decade of his life.

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