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James Thurber
[1894-1961]

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James Thurber

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"You can fool too many of the people too much of the time."

"Discussion in America means dissent."

"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility."

"Man is flying too fast for a world that is round. Soon he will
catch up with himself in a great rear end collision."

"Women are wiser than men because they know less and understand more."

"One martini is all right, two are too many, and three are not enough."

"Beautiful things don't ask for attention."

— James Thurber

          Writer, artist, and humorist James Grover Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio on 8 December 1894. He entered Ohio State University in 1913 and began his literary career on the staff of the student paper, The Lantern. After leaving O.S.U. in 1918, Thurber moved on to The Columbus Dispatch and, in 1927, his friend E.B. White helped him get a job on the editorial staff of the prestigious The New Yorker Magazine. Thurber's career as a cartoonist began in 1930 when White dug some of Thurber's drawings out of the trash and submitted them to be published in the The New Yorker.

          Thurber married Althea Adams in 1922, producing his only child, Rosemary, born 7 October 1931; the marriage ended in divorce in 1935. Thurber's marriage to Helen Muriel Wismer began the day that the divorce was final, and lasted to his death on 2 November 1961. Thurber received a Special Tony Award for the play "A Thurber Carnival" in 1960, and the U.S. Postal Service commemorated his centennial in November 1994 with a 29-cent stamp {below}.

official James Thurber website
James Thurber entry at Wikipedia
James Thurber credits [since 1941] at Internet Movie Database
browse the James Thurber Store at Amazon

James Thurber on the cover of Time Magazine of 9 July 1951        classic cartoon by James Thurber -- CLICK FOR BIGGER VIEW         dog cartoon by James Thurber alt=         James Thurber commemorative 29-cent U.S. postage stamp issued November 1994


Primary Works
browse the James Thurber Store at Amazon
browse James Thurber books at Amazon
browse James Thurber on audiotape at Amazon

Library of America James Thurber  Thurber: Writings and Drawings [1996]
Edited by Garrison Keillor

Library of America 8x5¼ hardcover [10/96] for $26.40
includes "My Life and Hard Times" [1933], stories "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
[1939] & "The Catbird Seat", anti-war parable "The Last Flower" [1939], "Fables For Our Time" [1940], the children's classic "The 13 Clocks" [1950], and selections from "The Owl In The Attic" [1931], "Let Your Mind Alone" [1937], "My World and Welcome To It" [1942], and "The Years With Ross" [1959]

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" [1939 story]
The most famous of Thurber's short stories first appeared in The New Yorker Magazine of 18 March 1939,
and was first collected in his book "My World and Welcome To It" [Harcourt, Brace & Co. 1942]. It has since
been reprinted in "James Thurber: Writings and Drawings" [Library of America, 1996], and is one of the most
frequently-anthologized short stories in American literature.
Walter Mitty entry at Wikipedia

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" feature film
[Samuel Goldwyn Co./R.K.O. Radio Pictures Aug 1947]
1947 movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starring Danny Kaye   Walter Mitty is a minor editor at a pulp magazine publishing house who is kicked around by the people in his life. His daydreaming of a life of adventure & heroism often leads to trouble, until a real adventure appears: the girl of his dreams is after some Dutch crown jewels hidden from the Nazis Produced by Samuel Goldwyn; directed by Norman Z. McLeod; screenplay by Ken Englund, Everett Freeman & Philip Rapp, based on the story by James Thurber; starring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, Fay Bainter, Ann Rutherford, Thurston Hall, Gordon Jones, Florence Bates, Konstantin Shayne, Reginald Denny, Fritz Feld, Minerva Urecal, Vernon Dent, Robert Altman, Chris-Pin Martin, and a bevy of Goldwyn Girls
H.B.O. Home Video color DVD [8/98] for $40.22
11"x17" yellow poster from Amazon for $5.99
full credits at IMDb movie entry at Wikipedia

"The Screen Guild Theater: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" [aired Nov 1947]
30-minute radio adaptation of the movie, with Danny Kaye & Virginia Mayo reprising their film roles

original cast album from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 1964 off-Broadway musical   "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" off-Broadway musical [Oct 1964-Jan 1965]
Plot has married Walter tempted by a 'would-be chanteuse' to leave his current dull life and really live the 'Secret Life'; 17 original songs. Book by Joe Manchester, music by Leon Carr, lyrics by Earl Shuman; cast includes Marc London, Lorraine Serabian, Eugene Roche, Cathryn Damon, Rue McClanahan, Lette Rehnolds
Masterworks Broadway original cast recording CD [5/2011] for $11.98
1964-65 stage run info at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
Secret Life of Walter Mitty stage musical  
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: A New Musical Based On The Classic Story" [1968]
Book by Joe Manchester, music by Leon Carr, lyrics by Earl Shuman

Samuel French Ltd. pb [10/68] for $8.95
Secret Life of Walter Mitty  "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Other Tales" [YA 2005]
Penguin 7½x5 pb [5/2000] out of print/used
Creative Education 10x7 library hardcover [1/2008] for $28.50
Secret Lives of Walter Mitty & James Thurber  "Secret Lives ... of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber" [2006]
includes the classic short story and the autobiographical New Yorker essay
"The Secret Life of James Thurber", illustrated by Marc Simont
Collins Design 7¾x6½ hardcover [4/2006] for $11.21

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" feature film  
[Goldwyn/Fox release 2013?]
Original team included director Gore Verbinski and star/co-writer Mike Myers; announced 1/2012: to be co-produced
& directed by & starring Ben Stiller, from a script by Steve Conrad; also starring Shirley MacLaine, Kristen Wiig,
Patton Oswalt, Kathryn Hahn & Josh Charles latest info at IMDb
watch 7/2013 official trailer [2:02] at YouTube

"The Male Animal" hit 1940 Broadway stageplay [Jan-Aug 1940]
Co-written by Elliott Nugent; cast included Leon Ames, Don DeFore, Ruth Matteson, Elliott Nugent, Minna Phillips, Gene Tierney & Regina Wallace credits at IBDb

"The Male Animal" feature film [Warner Bros.-First National April 1942]
The Male Animal 1942 feature film starring Henry Fonda  On the eve of promotion to full professor, a college teacher gets written about in the student newspaper as a hero for reading letters by Abraham Lincoln and anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti; the pressure from the Communist-hunting board of trustees is increased by the news that Homecoming Weekend includes the return of a football hero, who is the former boyfriend of the professor's wife . . . Produced by Hal B. Wallis & Wolfgang Reinhardt; directed by Elliott Nugent; written by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein & Stephen Morehouse Avery, based on the hit Broadway stageplay by James Thurber & Elliott Nugent; starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Leslie, Jack Carson, Eugene Pallette, Herbert Anderson, Hattie McDaniel, Ivan F. Simpson, Don DeFore, Jean Ames, Minna Phillips, Regina Wallace, Frank Mayo, William B. Davidson, Bobby Barnes
Warner Bros. b&w DVD [5/2009] for $14.99
full credits at IMDb movie entry at Wikipedia
watch clip of movie ending [8/2009 upload; 8:16] online at YouTube

"The Male Animal" Broadway revival [1952-53]
over 300 performances at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway April 1952 to January 1953; directed by Michael Gordon; starring Elliott Nugent,
Robert Preston, Martha Scott, Dorothy Blackburn, Charles Boaz, Matt Briggs & Halliwell Hobbes credits at IBDb

"The Male Animal" episode [CBS-TV March 1958) of the "Playhouse 90" TV series [1956-61]
Directed by Vincent J. Donehue; written by Helene Hanff, based on the Thurber-Nugent stageplay; starring Andy Griffith, Gale Gordon, Ronnie Knox,
Edmond O'Brien, Charles Ruggles, Ann Rutherford, Dick Sargent VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available episode credits at IMDb

"The Male Animal" episode [BBC-TV Oct 1968) of the "B.B.C. Play of the Month" TV series [1965-83]
Directed by Alan Bridges; based on the stageplay by James Thurber; starring Lee Montague, Anthony Perkins, Toby Robins, Alan Gifford, Jumoke Debayo, Marty Cruikshank, Blain Fairman, Richard O'Sullivan, Janet Brandes, Christopher Benjamin, Hilda Braid, Clive Endersby, John Sterland VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available episode credits at IMDb

"Oh My, Omar" [1921 novel]

"Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel The Way You Do" [1929] with E.B. White [1899-1985]

"The Owl In The Attic and Other Perplexities" [1931]

"The Seal In The Bedroom and Other Predicaments" [1932]

"My Life and Hard Times" [1933]

"The Middle-Aged Man On The Flying Trapeze" [1935]

"Let Your Mind Alone! and Other More or Less Inspirational Pieces" [1937]
"The Last Flower" [1939]
"The Cream of Thurber" [1939]

"Fables For Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated" [1940]

Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated [1943] by James Thurber Dedicated To Conventional Sinners https://www.amazon.com/Fables-Colophon-Thurber-Illustrated-Paperback/dp/B012HU9KS8/ https://www.amazon.com/Fables-Our-Time-Famous-Poems/dp/B007C1QH66/ https://www.amazon.com/Fables-Time-Famous-Poems-Illustrated/dp/0060909994/ https://www.amazon.com/Fables-Time-Famous-Poems-Illustrated/dp/B000K1GZRQ/ https://www.amazon.com/James-Thurbers-Fables-Our-Time/dp/B000R9EFIW/ Further Fables for Our Time [1956] by James Thurber https://www.amazon.com/Further-Fables-Time-James-Thurber/dp/0749308281/ 1991 https://www.amazon.com/Further-Fables-Time-James-Thurber/dp/0671278800/ https://www.amazon.com/Further-Fables-SPECIAL-PRINTING-SLIPCASE/dp/B06WLMD6VK/ https://www.amazon.com/Further-Fables-Time-Illustrated-Author/dp/B003VOPWC8/ James Thurber The Unicorn in the Garden and Other Fables for Our Time [1986] read by Peter Ustinov Caedmon https://www.amazon.com/Thurber-Unicorn-Garden-Fables-Ustinov/dp/B0045OT97W/ https://www.amazon.com/Unicorn-Garden-Other-Fables-Time/dp/089845641X/ Stories and Fables for Our Time Paperback Import, January 31, 1988 by James Thurber (Author) https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Fables-Time-James-Thurber/dp/3150092329/


"My World – and Welcome To It" [1942]
"Men, Women and Dogs" [1943]
"Many Moons" [1943]
"The Great Quillow" [children 1944]
"The White Deer" [book-length fairytale 1945]

The Thurber Carnival book by James Thurber - hardcover  The Thurber Carnival book by James Thurber - dust jacket  "The Thurber Carnival" [1945] Written & illustrated by James Thurber,
Commentary by Michael J. Rosen (Thurber House)

contains 6 stoies not collected before; 6 pieces from "My World and Welcome To It: (including 'Walter Mitty'); 8 pieces from "Let Your Mind Alone!"; 13 pieces from "Flying Trapeze"; all 11 pieces from "My Life and Hard Times"; 18 pieces from "Fables For Our Time"; 11 pieces from "Seal In The Bedroom"; 39 pieces from "Men, Women & Dogs", and a short biography
Harper Perennial Modern Classics 8x5¼ pb [11/2013] for $9.98
Perennial 8x5¼ pb [1945] out of print/40+ used
The Modern Library 7&frfac14x5 hardcover [1957] out of print/used
Harper & Brothers 8½x5½ hardcover [1945] out of print/60+ used

"The Beast In Me and Other Animals" [1948]

"The 13 Clocks" [1950 children's classic]
"The Motorola Television Hour" episode [1953]
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0651592/

"The Thurber Album" [1952]
"Thurber Country" [1953]
"Thurber's Dogs" [1955]
"A Thurber Garland" [1955]
"Alarms and Diversions" [1957]
"The Wonderful O" [book-length fairytale 1957]
"The Years With Ross" [1959 ?]
"Lanterns and Lances" [1961]
"The Vintage Thurber" [1963]
"Thurber and Company" [1966]
"Selected Letters" [Atlantic-Little, Brown 1981] Edited by Helen Thurber & Edward Weeks
"Credos and Curios" [Harper, 1983] Foreword by Helen Thurber
"Better To Have Loafed and Lost: The Best of James Thurber" [2002]

Collecting Himself / James Thurber   "Collecting Himself: James Thurber On Writing & Writers, Humor & Himself" [1989]
Edited by Michael J. Rosen

HarperCollins 7¾x5¼ pb [10/90] out of print/many used
Harper & Row hardcover [10/89] out of print/many used
Thurber On Crime  "Thurber On Crime: Stories, Articles, Drawings & Reflections On The Evil Men & Women Do" [36 selections; 1991] Edited by Robert LoPresti
Hamish Hamilton pb [10/92] out of print/scarce
Grand Central / Mysterious Press 9x6 hardcover [11/91] for $25.00
People Have More Fun Than Anybody  "People Have More Fun Than Anybody: A Centennial Celebration of Drawings & Writings by James Thurber" [1994]
Edited by Michael J. Rosen

Harvest Books 9½x6¾ pb [10/95] for $15.00
Harcourt 9¼x7 hardcover [5/94] out of print/many used
Dog Department by James Thurber  "The Dog Department: James Thurber On Hounds, Scotties & Talking Poodles" [2001] Edited by Michael J. Rosen
HarperCollins 8¼x8¼ hardcover [4/2001] for $23.36
Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker  "The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker" [2004]
Edited by Robert Mankoff

The book is a 656-page collection of 2,004 of the best cartoons published in The New Yorker over the last 80 years, and the searchable double CD set includes all 68,647 cartoons ever published in the magazine up to 2004
Black Dog & Leventhal 11½x10 pb book & CDs [10/2006] for $23.10
Black Dog & Leventhal 13¼x11¼ hardcover book and CDs [10/2004] for $37.80



Stageplays,  Motion Pictures  &  Other Media
James Thurber's credits [since 1941] at Internet Movie Database
James Thurber's credits [1940-1963] at Internet Broadway Database

           

"The Male Animal" hit 1940 Broadway stageplay [Jan-Aug 1940]
flyer for 1952 'The Male Animal' Broadway revival  Co-written by Elliott Nugent; cast included Leon Ames, Don DeFore, Ruth Matteson, Elliott Nugent, Minna Phillips, Gene Tierney & Regina Wallace credits at IBDb
"The Male Animal" Broadway revival [1952-53]
over 300 performances at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway April 1952 to January 1953; directed by Michael Gordon; starring Elliott Nugent, Robert Preston, Martha Scott, Dorothy Blackburn, Charles Boaz, Matt Briggs & Halliwell Hobbes credits at IBDb

also adapted as a hit feature film in 1942 and broadcast on network TV in 1958 and on BBC-TV in 1968

           

play, A Thurber Carnival, had its world premier in Columbus at the Hartman Theatre in January 1960.

"A Thurber Carnival" [1960 Broadway hit]
Directed by Burgess Meredith; cast included Peggy Cass, Tom Ewell, Paul Ford, Alice Ghostley, John McGiver,
Wynne Miller & Charles Braswell; Thurber received a Special Tony Award, along with Burgess Meredith
http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=2101

           

"The Beast In Me" [1963 Broadway failure]
A stage musical based on Thurber's "Fables in Our Time"; music by Don Elliott, book & lyrics by James Costigan; directed by John Lehne;
choreographed by John Butler; cast included: Kaye Ballard, Bert Convy & Nancy Haywood - http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3008

           

After the "My World..." TV series of 1969, William Windom [1923-2012] performed Thurber material in forty or fifty performances a year
of two solo shows based on Thurber's works and another pair based on the comic writings of Ernie Pyle.

           

"Jabberwock" [1972 play]
A play by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee based on 'improbabilities lived and imagined by James Thurber
in the fictional city of Columbus, Ohio'; opened the Thurber Theatre at O.S.U. on 18 November 1972

"Rise and Shine" [1941 feature film] /tt0034112/
Directed by Allan Dwan; script by Herman J. Mankiewicz, based on a Thurber story

"She's Working Her Way Through College" [1952 movie based on his play]
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045144/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi3tXEhK6l8 [2.55]

"The Unicorn In The Garden" animated short [Columbia/U.P.A. Sept 1953]
1953 animated short 'The Unicorn In The Garden'  'Unicorn In The Garden' is one of the 50 best cartoons of all time' A hen-pecked man prepares breakfast and looks out the window and sees a unicorn eating the roses and runs upstairs to tell his wife, who decides to call the police to have him put away . . . Produced by Stephen Bosustow; directed by William T. Hurtz; story by James Thurber; music by David Raksin full credits at IMDb
watch full color cartoon [5/2008 upload; 6:41] online at YouTube
"U.P.A.: The Jolly Frolics Collection, 1949-1959" DVD Box Set [2012]
"Unicorn" plus 37 other cartoon shorts by U.P.A
T.C.M./Sony color DVD set [11/2014] 3 disks for $32.45
T.C.M./Sony color DVD set [5/2012] 3 disks for $34.99
"Cartoon Classics: Columbia Pictures / U.P.A. Cartoons on VHS" [1994]
"Unicorn" plus a different mix of 7 other cartoon shorts by U.P.A on each tape
Volume 6: Columbia TriStar Home Video color VHS [6/94] out of prodn/used
Volume 9: Columbia TriStar Home Video color VHS [6/94] for $39.95

"Omnibus" TV Series [CBS-TV 1952-56]
115 b&w episodes hosted by Alistair Cooke series credits at IMDb
"A Tale of Two Cities" (1953) ... (story)
"Glory In The Flower" (1953) ... (story)

"The Remarkable Case of Mr. Bruhl" Season 2, Episode 15 [aired Jan 1954]
Teleplay by Tad Mosel, based on a James Thurber story; narrated by Martin Gabel; starring Elliott Nugent episode credits at IMDb
"James Thurber: Man and Boy" interview with Alistair Cooke [aired 4 March 1956]
watch segment [11/2016 upload; 20:37] online at YouTube

Omnibus American Profiles on DVD  "Omnibus: American Profiles, 1952-1961" DVD Box Set [2011]
E1 Entertainment b&w DVD set [7/2011] 2 disks for $16.99
contains 14 programs or segments on two disks: featured topics include Leonard Bernstein; Pearl Buck; the F-100 warplane; William Faulkner; Grand Central Terminal in New York City; photographer Philippe Halsman; The New York Times; Sugar Ray Robinson & Stillman's Gym; Dr. Seuss; "James Thurber: Man and Boy" [20 minutes; aired 4 March 1956]; E.B. White; and Frank Lloyd Wright
series credits at IMDb series entry at Wikipedia

"The Remarkable Case of Mr. Bruhl" TV movie [USA 1955, UK 1967] /tt3351630/
30-minute TV movie produced, adapted & directed by Michael Simpson; narrated by Alan White; starring Clive Dunn, Hilda Braid,
Ann Mitchell, Robert Gillespie, Graham Armitage, Harry Towb, Brian Walton credits at IMDb

"The Greatest Man In The World"
"Stage 7" episode [1955] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708085/
"Armchair Theatre" episode [1958] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051680/
"The Greatest Man In The World" TV movie [1980] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080814/

"The Battle of The Sexes" [1959 feature film]
based on Thurber's short story "The Catbird Seat"; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052607/

"My World and Welcome To It" 14-episode TV series [NBC-TV 1969-70]
Produced & co-directed by Sheldon Leonard; starring William Windom, Joan Hotchkis, Lisa Gerritsen, Harold J. Stone &
Henry Morgan; won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series & Leading Actor in a Comedy Series {Windom}
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063934/
half-hour sitcom for which William Windom won an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series; Joan Hotchkis Lisa Gerritsen Henry Morgan

After the TV series of 1969, William Windom performed Thurber material in a one-man stage show.

Tales For Males stories  "Tales For Males: Selected For Man's Enjoyment" [1945]
Edited by Ed Fitzgerald

Cadillac Publng hardcover [1/45] out of print/rare
stories by Konrad Bercovici, James M. Cain, Morley Callaghan, George S. Chappell, John Collier, Clarence Day Jr., John Fante, W.C. Fields, Corey Ford, Benjamin Franklin, C.A. Hamilton, Fred C. Kelly, Arthur Kober, Ring Lardner, Dorothy Parker, William Saroyan, Bernard Sobel, Donald Ogden Stewart, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber, George Weller, and others


Works About James Thurber

"The Clocks of Columbus: The Literary Career of James Thurber"
[Atheneum, 1972] by Charles S. Holmes ISBN 0-436-20080-5

James Thurber biography by Burton Bernstein  "Thurber: A Biography" [1975] by Burton Bernstein
Ballantine mass pb [2/76] out of print/used
Wm. Morrow 9¼x6 pb [5/96] out of print/many used
Dodd, Mead hardcover [3/75] out of print/many used

"Remembering Laughter: A Life of James Thurber" [Univ of Nebraska, 1994]
by Neil A. Grauer ISBN 0-8032-7056-9 ISBN 9780803221550

"James Thurber: His Life and Times" [Henry Holt & Co. , 1995] by Harrison Kinney ISBN 9780805039665

yellow DVD cover for James Thurber documentary from Adam Van Doren  "James Thurber: The Life and Hard Times" [indep 2000]
57-minute documentary by Adam Van Doren; narrated by George Plimpton; featuring Edward Albee, Roy Blount Jr., John Updike, Alistair Cooke, Fran Lebowitz & James Thurber; released June 2014 at iTunes and on DVD, educational license also available at distributer website
First Run Features color DVD [6/2014] for $13.98
bare credits at IMDb distributor official movie page

"The Man Who Was Walter Mitty: The Life & Work of James Thurber"
[2001] by Thomas Fensch 0-930-75113-2 ISBN 9780738840833

The Thurber Letters book edited by Harrison Kinney & Rosemary Thurber  "The Thurber Letters: The Wit, Wisdom & Surprising Life of James Thurber" [2003]
Edited by Harrison Kinney, with {daughter} Rosemary Thurber

Kindle Edition from Simon & Schuster Digital Sales [2007 edition] for $16.99 {sic}
Simon & Schuster 9½x7 hardcover [7/2003] for $19.33


Friends  &  Family
James Grover Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1894; he was hired by The New Yorker Magazine in 1927, and worked for them until his death in November 1961.

first wife Althea Adams Thurber [] - married 1922, divorce 1935
daughter Rosemary Thurber [born October 1931]

second wife Helen Muriel Wismer Thurber [] - married 1935, widowed 1961

longtime friend E.B. White [1899-1985]


L i n k s
official James Thurber website
official bio & timeline on the Thurber House website
James Thurber entry at Wikipedia
browse the James Thurber Store at Amazon
James Thurber credits [from 1941] at Internet Movie Database
James Thurber's credits [1940-1963] at Internet Broadway Database
Thurber Prize for American Humor [est. 1997]

Pathfinder: James Grover Thurber
Thurber Theatre [est. 1972] at Ohio State University
the Sanford-Curtis-Thurber House [built c1800] in Fairfield County, Connecticut
NR's James Thurber fansite
James & Linda's "My World and Welcome To It" fansite


here on the James Thurber [1894-1961] Page at Spirit of America Bookstore

top of this page short profile primary works other works works about James Thurber

plays, movies, other media friends & family links

                    

Online sales in association with  browse the James Thurber Store at Amazon

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