The most celebrated author to hail from Columbus, Ohio, James Thurber is generally regarded as the greatest American humorist since Mark Twain. Born, raised and educated in Columbus, Thurber’s writing career began with a three year stint at the Columbus Dispatch in the early 1920’s. His rise to fame, however, came after joining the New Yorker magazine, where office mate E.B. White unveiled his friend’s talent as a cartoonist.
While he had no formal training as an artist, Thurber’s minimalist sketches appeared regularly in the New Yorker and became prototypes of the magazine’s more sophisticated cartoons. Thurber’s early experiences in Ohio would supply a lifetime of material for his trademark portrayal of everyday frustrations of modern domestic life. He often credited his mother, a practical joker with a wry sense of humor, for shaping his own comedic style.
Thurber’s best-known characters are Walter Mitty, his snarling wife, and silently observing animals. Despite an accident in childhood that left him with one eye, Thurber wrote close to 40 books, including collections of essays, short stories, fables, and children’s stories.