Newsweek’s Thurber Cover Story
In July of 1951, TIME put Thurber on its cover — it’s the cover most Thurber biographies mention. Newsweek’s Thurber cover, out six years later, is rarely mentioned. Thinking about it this morning, I dug out the sole bound volume of Newsweek in the Spill‘s library (acquired, obviously, because it contains the Thurber issue) and took another look at this lost feature.
The piece was an old-fashioned tie-in with his new book The Wonderful ‘O’ . Like all profiles it’s a mini-biography. If you’re familiar with the broad strokes of Thurber’s story, there isn’t much new here — it’s simply a fun refresher course. There is however this Thurber gem tossed in:
“I have never understood how Americans got the reputation for having a sense of humor. Actually we are a nation of slapstick people. We invented the gag, the belly-laugh, and the hotfoot. We are not a nation who chuckles…”
Along with the now familiar late-in-life photo of Thurber drawing while wearing a Zeiss loupe (he was close to completely blind — the magnifying device allowed him to continue drawing) and a photo of him with his second wife, Helen, and their dog, there are plenty of Thurber drawings, many of them playfully bordering the text. It’s a lovely intro to a New Yorker giant.
If this puts you in the mood for more Thurber, be sure to check out Michael Rosen’s A Mile and a Half of Lines: The Art of James Thurber (Trillium/Ohio State University Press, 2019), a wonderful addition to your library. It’s out August 23rd. [Full disclosure: my wife, Liza Donnelly, and I contributed to the book]