JAMES THURBER Biography - Writers


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James Thurber, one of the outstanding American humorists of the       
twentieth century, is known for his distinctively funny cartoons and   
short stories. His concise, witty prose spanned a breadth of genres,   
including autobiography, fiction, children's fantasy, and modern       
commentary, and two of his short stories, "The Catbird Seat" and       
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," are among the best-known classics   
of American literature.                                               
Thurber was born in Columbus on December 8, 1894. His father was a     
clerk who often served politicians, and his mother was an eccentric   
woman who would be an influence for many of his stories. Thurber had   
two brothers. As a young boy, Thurber lost sight in one of his eyes   
while playing "William Tell" with his brothers, an accident which     
eventually caused him to go completely blind later in life. Still,     
Thurber had a fairly normal childhood. Thurber attended local public   
schools. He went to the Ohio State University from 1913-1917, when     
the Thurbers rented the house at 77 Jefferson Avenue, which is now     
Thurber House. Due to his eye injury, Thurber never completed a       
compulsory ROTC course and did not graduate from Ohio State, though   
he received a posthumous degree.                                       
Thurber launched his professional writing career as a reporter for     
the Columbus Dispatch in 1920. He began writing for the New Yorker     
in 1927 after friend E.B. White (Charlotte's Web) got him a job at     
the magazine. Thurber started as an editor for the magazine but       
quickly became a writer. His career as a cartoonist began in 1930,     
when White dug some of Thurber's drawings out of the trash and         
submitted them to be published in the New Yorker.                     
Though hampered by failing eyesight, Thurber wrote nearly forty       
books, including collections of essays, short stories, fables, and     
children's stories. He won a Tony Award for his popular Broadway       
play, A Thurber Carnival, in which he often starred as himself.       
Thurber died of complications from pneumonia on November 2, 1961. He   
is buried in Columbus' Greenlawn Cemetery.