LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES THURBER


1894: Thurber is born on December 8 on a self-described "night of wild portent" in Columbus, Ohio, to Mary Fisher Thurber and Charles L. Thurber, the second of the family's three sons.

1901: In Washington DC, where the family was living temporarily, Thurber is shot in the eye while playing a bow-and-arrow game with his brothers. This causes blindness in one eye; sight in his other eye continued to fail throughout his adult life.

1903-07: Thurber attends Sullivant Elementary School in Columbus.

1908-09: Thurber attends Douglas Junior High School, where he writes his Class Prophecy, featuring himself as an unlikely hero in an active world (hinting perhaps at a Walter Mitty character?)

1909-13: Thurber attends East High School, is elected class president in his senior year, and graduates with honors.

1913-15: Thurber starts studies at The Ohio State University, commuting by trolley from the family home at 77 Jefferson Avenue. He struggles with the required ROTC and gym courses, as well as in science labs, partly because of his poor eyesight.

1916-18: Thurber begins his sophomore year again at age 21. He meets Elliot Nugent, who introduces him to fraternity and social life. Along with Nugent, Thurber writes for the college paper, the Lantern, and becomes editor-in-chief of the Sundial humor and literary magazine. Thurber leaves Ohio State in 1918 without completing his degree.

1918-20: Thurber works for the State Department, first in Washington DC, and then at the American Embassy in Paris.

1920-21: Thurber returns to Columbus and begins working at The Columbus Dispatch. He also writes and directs musical comedies for the Scarlet Mask Club at Ohio State.

1922: Thurber marries Althea Adams, an Ohio State beauty with a dominant personality who may have influenced the character of the "Thurber woman."

1924: Thurber resigns from the Dispatch to try freelance writing.

1925-26: Thurber returns to Paris and is a reporter for The Chicago Tribune. He is later transferred to the Riviera edition in Nice.

1926: Thurber and Althea return to America in June and move to New York City, where Thurber begins working as a reporter and feature writer for the New York Evening Post.

1927: At a party, Thurber meets E.B. White, who introduces him to Harold Ross. Ross immediately hires Thurber as editor-writer for The New Yorker.

1929: Thurber's first book, Is Sex Necessary?, is published in collaboration with New Yorker officemate E. B. White.

1930: With the encouragement of White, Thurber's first cartoons appear in The New Yorker.

1929: Thurber's first book, Is Sex Necessary?, is published in collaboration with New Yorker officemate E. B. White.

1930: With the encouragement of White, Thurber's first cartoons appear in The New Yorker.

1931: Thurber's only child, Rosemary, is born on October 7.

1935: After several years of difficulty and separations, James and Althea divorce in May; James marries Helen Wismer, an editor, in June.

1936: James and Helen move to Connecticut. Thurber leaves The New Yorker staff officially in order to freelance, but keeps a contractual agreement for his writing with the magazine.

1937-38: Helen and James travel abroad in France and England. Thurber has a one-man show of his drawings at the Storran Gallery in London.

1939-40: Thurber collaborates with college buddy Elliot Nugent on "The Male Animal," a play about Ohio State, which was an enormous success on Broadway with 243 performances in the 1939-40 season.

1942: By now, Thurber has serious eye problems and uses a Zeiss loupe in order to continue drawing. The Thurbers briefly move back to New York.

1944: Thurber's overall health begins to decline. He is critically ill with pneumonia and appendicitis this year.

1945: James and Helen move into "The Great Good Place," a 14-room Colonial-style home in West Cornwall, Connecticut.

1950: Thurber receives his first honorary doctorate, a Doctor of Letters Degree from Kenyon College in Ohio. A second honorary doctorate is bestowed upon Thurber from Williams College in Massachusetts.

1951: Thurber declines an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from his alma mater, Ohio State, in protest over its suppression of academic freedom during the reign of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

1953: Thurber is awarded a third honorary Doctor of Letters from Yale University. He also receives the Ohioana Sesquicentennial Medal. Thurber's health continues to fail as a thyroid condition causes erratic behavior.

1958: Thurber returns to England to become the first American since Mark Twain to be called "to the table" at Punch.

1960: Thurber appears in 88 performances as himself in "A Thurber Carnival," a revue based on his writings and drawings and produced at the ANTA Theatre in New York.

1961: Thurber is stricken with a blood clot in his brain in early October in New York. He dies a month later on November 2. His ashes are interred at Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, plot 50.

THURBER POSTHUMOUSLY

1972: Thurber Theatre is dedicated at Ohio State's Drake Union.

1984: Thurber House, located in what was James' home during his college years, opens as a literary arts center and museum of Thurber materials.

1994: Thurber becomes the first Columbus native to be featured on a US Postal Service commemorative stamp (three months from the 100th anniversary of his birth.)

1995: Thurber receives the first ever posthumous Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his alma mater, The Ohio State University. His daughter Rosemary accepts.