James Thurber Fables and other Short Stories
Full Name: James Grover Thurber
Time: 8 December 1894 to 2 November 1961
About: James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, journalist, and celebrated wit. Thurber was best known for his cartoons and short stories, published mainly in The New Yorker magazine and collected in his numerous books. One of the most popular humorists of his time, Thurber celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people. More…
- The Curb in the Sky
When Charlie Deshler announced that he was going to marry Dorothy, someone said he would lose his mind posthaste. “No,” said a wit who knew them both, “post hoc.” Dorothy had begun, when quite young,
- The Bachelor Penguin and the Virtuous Mate
One spring a bachelor penguin’s fancy lightly turned, as it did in every season, to thoughts of illicit love. It was this gay seducer’s custom to make passes at the more
- The Wolf Who Went Places
A wealthy young wolf, who was oblivious of everything except himself, was tossed out of college for cutting classes and corners, and he decided to see if he could
- The Philosopher and the Oyster
By the sea on a lovely morning strolled a philosopher—one who seeks a magnificent explanation for his insignificance and there he came upon an oyster lying in its shell upon the sand.
- The Clothes Moth and the Luna Moth
A clothes moth who lived in a closet and had never done anything, or wanted to do anything, except eat wool and fur, flew out of his closet one twilight just in time
- The Kingfisher and the Phoebe
A proud mother phoebe who had raised two broods of fledglings in the fair weather was at first dismayed and then delighted when one of the males of the second brood
- The Grizzly and the Gadgets
A grizzly bear who had been on a bender for several weeks following a Christmas party in his home at which his brother-in-law had set the Christmas tree on fire,
- The Human Being and the Dinosaur
Ages ago in a wasteland of time and a wilderness of space, Man, in upper case, and dinosaur, in lower, first came face to face. They stood like stones for a long while,
- The Butterfly, the Ladybug, and the Phoebe
A phoebe, bugwinner for a nestful of fledglings, flew out one day to provide dinner for his family, and came upon a ladybug in frantic flight.
- The Trial of the Old Watchdog
An old experienced collie, who had been a faithful country watchdog for many years, was arrested one summer’s day and accused of the first-degree murder of a lamb.
- The Tiger Who Would Be King
One morning the tiger woke up in the jungle and told his mate that he was king of beasts. “Leo, the lion, is king of beasts,” she said.
- The Bluebird and His Brother
It was said of two bluebirds that they were unlike as two brothers could be, that one was a pearl in a pod and the other a pea. Pearl was happy-go-lucky, and Pea was gloomy-go-sorry.
- The Weaver and the Worm
A weaver watched in wide-eyed wonder a silkworm spinning its cocoon in a white mulberry tree. “Where do you get that stuff?” asked the admiring weaver.
- The Godfather and His Godchild
A worldly-wise collector, who had trotted the globe collecting everything he could shoot, or buy, or make off with, called upon his godchild, a little girl of five,
- The Bragdowdy and the Busybody
A female hare, who had been born with a foot in everybody’s affairs, became known in her community as “that big Belgian busybody.” She was always listening to the
- Oliver and the Other Ostriches
An austere ostrich of awesome authority was lecturing younger ostriches one day on the superiority of their species to all other species.
- The Daws on the Dial
A young jackdaw told his father that he was going to build his nest on the minute hand of the town clock. “That’s the most unthinkable thing you ever thought of,” said old John Daw. Young Jack was not deterred. “We’ll build our nest when the minute hand is level,” ...
- The Foolhardy Mouse and the Cautious Cat
Such sport there had been that day, in the kitchen and the pantry, for the cat was away and the mice were playing all manner of games: mousy-wants-a-corner, hide-and-squeak,
- The Shrike and the Chipmunks
Once upon a time there were two chipmunks, a male and a female. The male chipmunk thought that arranging nuts in artistic patters was more fun that just piling them up to see how many you could pile up.
- The Cricket and the Wren
At a music festival one summer in Tangletale Wood, a score of soloists came together to compete for the annual Peacock Awards. The Cricket was asked to pick the winner
- The Fox and the Crow
A crow, perched in a tree with a piece of cheese in his beak, attracted the eye and nose of a fox. “If you can sing as prettily as you sit,” said the fox, “then you are
- The Magpie’s Treasure
One day when the sun made everything that glitters glitter and everything that sparkles sparkle, a magpie picked up something from a gutter and carried it off to her nest.
- The Truth About Toads
One midsummer night at the Fauna Club, some of the members fell to boasting, each of his own unique distinction or achievement.
- The Mouse and the Money
A city mouse who moved to the country to live in the walls of an old house with a lot of country mice began lording it over them from the start. He trimmed his whiskers,
- The Turtle Who Conquered Time
A turtle appeared in a meadow one summer’s day and attracted the attention of all the creatures in the grass and in the trees, because the date 44 B.C. was carved on his shell.
- The Bears and the Monkeys
In a deep forest there lived many bears. They spent the winter sleeping, and the summer playing leap-bear and stealing honey and buns from nearby cottages.
- The Chipmunk and His Mate
A male chipmunk could sleep like a top or a log or a baby as soon as his head hit the pillow, but his mate was always as wakeful as an owl or a nightwatchman or a burglar.
- Ivory, Apes, and People
A band of ambitious apes in Africa once called upon a herd of elephants with a business proposition. “We can sell your tusks to people for a fortune in peanuts and oranges,”
- The Goose That Laid the Gilded Egg
The goose didn’t really lay a gilded egg. She laid an ordinary goose egg, like any other goose egg, and some joker gilded it when she left the nest for a snack or a snail.
- The Lady of the Legs
In a pool near Paris there lived a frog who thought she was wonderful. “I have the largest lily pad, the deepest dive,
- The Peacelike Mongoose
In cobra country a mongoose was born one day who didn’t want to fight cobras or anything else. The word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn’t want to fight cobras.
- The Princess And The Tin Box
Once upon a time, in a far country, there lived a king whose daughter was the prettiest princess in the world. Her eyes were like the cornflower, her hair was sweeter than the hyacinth, and her throat made the swan look dusty.
- The Unicorn in the Garden
Once upon a sunny morning a man who sat in a breakfast nook looked up from his scrambled eggs to see a white unicorn with a golden horn quietly cropping the roses in the garden.
- The Shore and the Sea
A single excited lemming started the exodus, crying, “Fire!” and running toward the sea. He may have seen the sunrise through the trees, or waked from a fiery nightmare,
- The Lion and the Foxes
The lion had just explained to the cow, the goat, and the sheep that the stag they had killed belonged to him, when three little foxes appeared on the scene.
- The Wolf at the Door
Mr. and Mrs. Sheep were sitting in their sitting room with their daughter, who was as pretty as she was edible, when there was a knock at the front door.
- The Bat Who Got the Hell Out
A colony of bats living in a great American cave had got along fine for a thousand generations, flying, hanging head down, eating insects, and raising young,
- The Tigress and Her Mate
Proudfoot, a tiger, became tired of his mate, Sabra, a few weeks after they had set up housekeeping, and he fell to leaving home earlier and earlier in the
- What Happened To Charles
A farm horse named Charles was led to town one day by his owner, to be shod. He would have been shod and brought back home without incident if it hadn’t been for Eva, a duck,
- The Sea And The Shore
A pair of gibbous creatures, who had lived in the sea since time began, which hadn’t been long before, were washed upon the shore one day and became the discoverers of land.
- The Rose, The Fountain, And The Dove
In a green valley, serene as a star and silent as the moon—except for the Saturday laughter of children and the sound of summer thunder—a rose and a fountain grew restless as time crept on.
- The Hen Party
All the hens came to Lady Buff Orpington’s tea party and, as usual, Minnie Minorca was the last to arrive, for, as usual, she had spent the day with her psychiatrist,
- The Father And His Daughter
A little girl was given so many picture books on her seventh birthday that her father, who should have run his office and let her mother run the home, thought his daughter
- The Lion And The Lizard
A lion and a lizard kept the halls where once a prince had slept. The prince had died, as even princes do, and his palace had fallen to rats and ruin.
- The Cat In The Lifeboat
A feline named William got a job as copy cat on a daily paper and was surprised to learn that every other cat on the paper was named Tom, Dick, or Harry. He soon found out that he was the only cat named William in town.
- Two Dogs
One sultry moonless night, a leopard escaped from a circus and slunk away into the shadows of a city. The chief of police dogs assigned to the case a German shepherd named Plunger and a plainclothes bloodhound named Plod.
- The Lover And His Lass
An arrogant gray parrot and his arrogant mate listened, one African afternoon, in disdain and derision, to the lovemaking of a lover and his lass, who happened to be hippopotamuses.
- Tea For One
A young husband was wakened at five o’clock one morning by his bride. “Is the house on fire?” he mumbled. She laughed merrily. “The dawn is here,” she said, “and I am going to bake a sugar cake.”
- The Rose And The Weed
In a country garden a lovely rose looked down upon a common weed and said, “You are an unwelcome guest, economically useless, and unsightly of appearance. The Devil must love weeds, he made so many of them.”
- The Crow And The Scarecrow
Once upon a farm an armada of crows descended like the wolf on the fold. They were after the seeds in the garden and the corn in the field. The crows posted sentinels, who warned them of the approach of the farmer,
- Variations On The Theme
A fox, attracted by the scent of something, followed his nose to a tree in which sat a crow with a piece of cheese in his beak. “Oh, cheese,” said the fox scornfully. “That’s for mice.”
- Draft Board Nights
Part 9 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. I left the University in June, 1918, but I couldn’t get into the army on account of my sight, just as grandfather couldn’t get in on account of his age. He applied several times and each time he ...
- University Days
Part 8 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. I passed all the other courses that I took at my University, but I could never pass botany. This was because all botany students had to spend several hours a week in a laboratory looking through a microscope ...
- The Very Proper Gander
Not so long ago there was a very fine gander. He was strong and beautiful and he spent most of his time singing to his wife and children.
- A Sequence of Servants
Part 6 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. When I look buck on the line of servants my mother hired during the years I lived at home, I remember clearly ten or twelve of them (we had about a hundred and sixty-two, all told, but few ...
- The Moth And The Star
A young and impressionable moth once set his heart on a certain star. He told his mother about this and she counseled him to set his heart on a bridge lamp instead.
- More Alarms at Night
Part 5 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. One of the incidents that I always think of first when I cast back over my youth is what happened the night that my father “threatened to get Buck.” This, as you will see, is not precisely a ...
- The Bear Who Let It Alone
In the woods of the Far West there once lived a brown bear who could take it or leave it alone. He would go into a bar where they sold mead, a fermented drink made of honey,
- The Night the Ghost Got In
Part 4 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. The ghost that got into our house on the night of November 17, 1915, raised such a hullabaloo of misunderstandings that I am sorry I didn’t just let it keep on walking, and go to bed. Its advent ...
- The Day the Dam Broke
Part 3 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. My memories of what my family and I went through during the 1913 flood in Ohio I would gladly forget. And yet neither the hardships we endured nor the turmoil and confusion we experienced can alter my feeling ...
- If Grant Had Been Drinking At Appomattox
The morning of the ninth of April, 1865, dawned beautifully. General Meade was up with the first streaks of crimson in the sky. General Hooker and General Burnside were up
- The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble
Within the memory of the youngest child there was a family of rabbits who lived near a pack of wolves. The wolves announced that they did not like the way the rabbits
- The Owl Who Was God
Once upon a starless midnight there was an owl who sat on the branch of an oak tree. Two ground moles tried to slip quietly by, unnoticed.
- The Car We Had to Push
Part 2 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. Many autobiographers, among them Lincoln Steffens and Gertrude Atherton, described earthquakes their families have been in. I am unable to do this because my family was never in an earthquake, but we went through a number of things ...
- The Dog That Bit People
Part 7 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. Probably no one mem should have as many dogs in his life as I have had, but there was more pleasure than distress in them for me except in the case of an Airedale named Muggs. He gave me ...
- The Greatest Man in the World
Looking back on it now, from the vantage point of 1950, one can only marvel that it hadn’t happened long before it did. The United States of America had been, even since Kitty Hawk, blindly constructing the elaborate petard by which, sooner or later, it must be hoist.
- The Catbird Seat
Mr. Martin bought the pack of Camels on Monday night in the most crowded cigar store on Broadway. It was theater time and seven or eight men were buying cigarettes. The clerk didn’t even glance at Mr. Martin, who put the pack in his overcoat pocket and went out. If ...
- The Night The Bed Fell
Part 1 of total 9 stories in series My Life and Hard Times. I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father. It makes a better recitation (unless, as some friends of mine have said, one has heard it ...
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
“We’re going through!” The Commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking. He wore his full-dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled down rakishly over one cold gray eye. “We can’t make it, sir. It’s spoiling for a hurricane, if you ask me.”