James (Grover) Thurber 1894–1961
American short story writer, cartoonist, essayist, and dramatist.
Thurber is often described as one of the outstanding humorists of this century. A distinctive stylist in both his prose and his cartoons, he satirized modern middle-class life, often focusing on the tragicomic nature of male/female relations. The "Thurber man" is one bewildered by the nature and pace of modern living. He finds women, fate, animals, and machines baffling in their complexity.
Thurber began working at the New Yorker in 1927 and was associated with the magazine for the rest of his life. Influential in establishing the New Yorker's distinctive style, he also had the opportunity to gain a wide audience for his writings published therein.
Blinded in one eye in a childhood accident, Thurber lost his vision completely in 1947. He nevertheless continued to publish prolifically. The recent publication of the Selected Letters of James Thurber provides some insight into his mind and art and into how both were affected by the deterioration of his vision. The letters, many of which are to long-term New Yorker friends, reveal a blunt, strong-minded, highly individualistic man, gifted with an unerring sense of the absurd.
(See also CLC, Vols. 5, 11; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 73-76; Something about the Author, Vol. 13; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 4.)