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James Grove Thurber Edit Profile

artist , writer

James Grove Thurber was an American writer and artist.


Thurber was born in 1894 in Columbus, Ohio, United States, to Charles L. Thurber and Mary Agnes "Mame" (née Fisher) Thurber.


James Thurber attended Ohio State University - though he never took a degree.


He worked for some years in Ohio as a journalist. He moved to New York in 1926. In 1927 he met writer E. B. White and was taken onto the staff of the New Yorker magazine. In collaboration with White he produced his first book, Is Sex Necessary? (1929).

By 1931 his first cartoons began appearing in the New Yorker seals, sea lions, strange tigers, harried men, determined women, and, most of all, dogs. Thurber's dogs became something like a national comic institution, and they dotted the pages of a whole series of books.

His book The Seal in the Bedroom appeared in 1932, followed in 1933 by My Life and Hard Times. He published The Middle-aged Man on the Flying Trapeze in 1935, and by 1937, when he published Let Your Mind Alone! , he had become so successful that he left his position on the New Yorker staff to free-lance and to travel abroad.

The Last Flower appeared in 1939; that year Thurber collaborated with White on a play, The Male Animal. The play was a hit when it opened in 1940. But this was also the year that Thurber was forced to undergo a series of eye operations for cataract and trachoma.

The last 20 years of Thurber's life were filled with material and professional success in spite of his handicap. He published at least 14 more books, including The Thurber Carnival (1945), Thurber Country (1953), and the extremely popular account of the life of the New Yorker editer Harold Ross, The Years with Ross (1959). A number of his stories were made into movies, including "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1947). Thurber's comic world was peopled by his curious animals.


  • One of the most popular humorists of his time, Thurber celebrated in stories and in cartoons the comic frustrations of eccentric and statureless people. His notable works - My Life and Hard Times, My World and Welcome to It and others. His short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" has been adapted for film twice, once in 1947 and again in 2013.


His eyesight grew steadily worse until, in 1951, it was so weak that he did his last drawing. He spent the last decade of his life in blindness.


Thurber married Althea Adams in 1922, but the marriage was troubled and ended in divorce in May 1935. They lived in Fairfield County, Connecticut, with their daughter Rosemary. He married Helen Wismer (1902–86) in June 1935.

Charles L. Thurber

Mary Agnes "Mame" (née Fisher) Thurber

Althea Adams

Helen Wismer

E. B. White