Today in Literary History – December 8, 1894 – James Thurber is born

James Thurber, the humourist, playwright and cartoonist was born on December 8, 1894. He was a celebrated New Yorker staff writer and cartoonist and a member of the Algonquin Round Table that gathered some of the greatest talkers and wits of the 1930s and forties.

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His short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” has become a classic of American humour and is often anthologized. It has even given the English language the word Mittyesque for a milquetoast who lives on unrealistic heroic fantasies.

Thurber was almost entirely blind from a childhood accident. He drew his cartoons on large squares of paper with a black crayon. His drawings are bold and imaginative. His subjects were mostly domestic, featuring henpecked husbands.

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Thurber died in 1961 at the age of 66 after a blood clot on his brain and several small strokes.

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