James Thurber (James Grover Thurber) Biography
(1894–1961), (James Grover Thurber), Is Sex Necessary?, The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities
American humorist, born in Columbus, Ohio, educated at Ohio State University. Thurber initially became well known through the pages of the New Yorker. The combination of mordant prose with understated illustration was the dominant feature of his work. His first publication, Is Sex Necessary? (1929), in collaboration with E. B. White, was a satirical attack on the 1920s vogue for sex manuals. After the work of the 1930s, which included The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities (1931), The Seal in the Bedroom and Other Predicaments (1932), amusing reminiscences in My Life and Hard Times (1933), The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935), Let Your Mind Alone! (1937), a parable of war in The Last Flower (1939), and Fables for Our Time (1940), his writing took on a somewhat quieter tone. This is best seen in the essays, sketches, and stories in My World—and Welcome to It (1942), which contained ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, in which a thoroughly ordinary character escapes from his mundane life by the use of a constant stream of fantasies. Beneath the humorous surface there was always a sense of a perception under siege by irrationality and falsity. Other works include Men, Women and Dogs (1943), The Thurber Carnival (1945), Thurber Country (1953), Further Fables for Our Time (1956), Alarms and Diversions (1957), and the essays in Lanterns and Lances (1961). He also wrote children's books. The Years with Ross (1958) was a personal reminiscence of his life with the New Yorker and its editor, Harold Ross. A selection of his letters was published in 1981.