James Grover Thurber (1894-1961)
Where: Pine Street and Great Hollow Road
When: 1941- 1961
Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio. During an afternoon of playing, one of his brothers shot Thurber in his left eye with an arrow. Though the doctors initially tried to retain Thurber’s left eye, it caused such distress in his right eye that it was eventually removed and his right eye permanently weakened. Thurber’s compromised eyesight had a tremendous impact on his life and work.
Thurber studied at Ohio State University, and though he did not graduate due to his vision problems, he went on to work as a clerk for the State Department in Washington D.C. and then the U.S. Embassy in France. In 1921, Thurber began his reporting career in Columbus, moving on to the Chicago Tribune and then ultimately to New York in 1925.
With the help of E. B. White, Thurber left the New York Evening Post after two years to join The New Yorker, in 1927. In 1930 Thurber also became a cartoonist there. Thurber wrote and drew for The New Yorker into the 1950s, when he retired.
In the summer of 1941 on Martha’s Vineyard, Thurber met Mark Van Doren. Both had admired the other's work, and when introduced found that they enjoyed each other’s company as well. It was with Van Doren’s recommendation that Thurber moved to Cornwall in 1942. Thurber rented a former Marvelwood School dormitory building in Cornwall for 3 years until he found what he referred to as his “great good place” on Great Hollow Road. Thurber made many friends in Cornwall and credited living in Cornwall with adding years to his life. Thurber died in New York City in 1961.
Image from the Collection of the Cornwall Historical Society