James Grover Thurber, 1894 - 1961

portrait of James Thurber
Photo by Fred Palumbo, World Telegram (1954)

Born: 8 December 1894, Columbus, Ohio
Died: 2 November 1961, New York City

Thurber's father was a mild-mannered clerk who became the model of his "Walter Mitty" character, his mother a "born comedienne" mother who loved practical jokes and once hobbled into a revival tent and was miraculously "cured". Thurber lost one eye when playing "William Tell" with his brother and his vision was never good, he was almost completely blind later in life. He attended Ohio State University and did well but wasn't given a degree because his sight was not good enough to take the mandatory ROTC class. (They awarded the degree in 1995.) He worked as a code clerk for the Department of State in WW I, first at Washington City and then at Paris. He came home to Columbus and took a reporting job at the Columbus Dispatch from 1921 to 1924, then moved to Greenwich Village and wrote for the New York Evening Post. After twenty rejections, he got his first short story in The New Yorker, joining the staff as an editor in 1927 with the help of another contributor, E. B. White. It was White who found some of his early drawings in the office trash and submitted them; Thurber was an editor, writer, and cartoonist at The New Yorker most of his life. He died of complications from pneumonia following a stroke.

Biography from Wikipedia and Authors' Calendar

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