James Thurber

The Ohio Connection

“Such readers as I have collected through the years are all aware of where I was born and brought up and they know that half of my books could not have been written if it had not been for the city of my birth.”— James Thurber, 1959

  • James Grover Thurber was born in Columbus on December 8, 1894.
  • His father was Charles L. Thurber, an appointed clerk of courts in Columbus who ran unsuccessfully for public office.
  • Thurber was educated at Columbus public schools, including Sullivant Elementary School, Douglas Junior High School, and East High School, where he graduated with honors as class president.
  • He attended the Ohio State University from 1913 to 1917. Because of partial blindness, Thurber never completed a mandatory ROTC course and did not graduate.
  • Worked as a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch from 1921 to 1924.
  • Wrote and directed musical comedies for OSU’s Scarlet Mask Club in the early twenties.
  • Married Ohio State sweetheart Althea Adams in 1922; they divorced in 1935.
  • In 1950, Thurber received his first honorary doctorate from Kenyon College in Ohio.
  • A year later, he refused an honorary degree from Ohio State to protest the university’s kowtowing to McCarthyism. In 1995, OSU awarded Thurber its first-ever posthumous doctorate.
  • In 1953 Thurber received the Ohioana Sesquicentennial Medal.
  • James Thurber died in 1961 and is buried in Columbus’ Greenlawn Cemetery.

Thurber House, A Literary Center for Writers and Readers, in Columbus, Ohio
Thurber House was the home of author, humorist, and New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber and his family when Thurber was a student at The Ohio State University. Thurber House is now a literary center and museum of Thurber materials.

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