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Thurber, James

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(US, 1894–1961)

Thurber was a diplomat in Paris before turning to journalism and becoming a regular contributor to the New Yorker. His collection of humorous sketches, My Life and Hard Times (1933) depicts a moneyed middle-class world of problems with servants and old college friends. The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) found Thurber's authentic manner, escapist fantasy, imagining an alternative Civil War, ‘If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox’. My Worldand Welcome to it (1942) introduced Thurber's most famous creation, Walter Mitty, the timid man from the suburbs beset by his domineering wife, who lapses into hilariously heroic fantasies while carrying out shopping tasks. Whimsical cartoons were an integral part of Thurber's humour, often showing the irrational bursting through dull domesticity. The Thurber Carnival (1945) is a much-reprinted selection of his best stories, fables, and drawings.

Dorothy Parker, Keith Waterhouse, Flann O'Brien, Laurence Sterne  JS

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