James Thurber

Literary Birthday – 8 December – James Thurber

James Thurber was born 8 December 1894, and died 2 November 1961.


  1. There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception.
  2. I can’t hide any more behind the mask of comedy that I’ve used all my life. People are not funny; they are vicious and horrible—and so is life.
  3. That draft isn’t any good; it isn’t supposed to be; the whole purpose is to sketch out proportions… . I rarely have a very clear idea of where I’m going when I start. Just people and a situation. Then I fool around—writing and rewriting until the stuff gels.
  4. A word to the wise is not sufficient if it doesn’t make sense.
  5. Don’t get it right, just get it written.
  6. I have never written more than a dozen pieces that I thought could not have been improved. Most writers who are any good have this belief about their work.
  7. Comedy has to be done en clair. You can’t blunt the edge of wit or the point of satire with obscurity. Try to imagine a famous witty saying that is not immediately clear.
  8. There is something about a poet which leads us to believe that he died, in many cases, as long as 20 years before his birth.
  9. Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.
  10. When all things are equal, translucence in writing is more effective than transparency, just as glow is more revealing than glare.

James Thurber was an American author, cartoonist, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories, published mainly in The New Yorker magazine and collected in his numerous books. His works include The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Wonderful O.

Source for Image


Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 8th December 2013