The first book of prose published by either James Thurber or E. B. White, Is Sex Necessary? combines the humor and genius of both authors to examine those great mysteries of life -- romance, love, and marriage. A masterpiece of drollery, this 75th Anniversary Edition stands the test of time with its sidesplitting spoof of men, women, and psychologists; more than fifty funny illustrations by Thurber; and a new foreword by John Updike.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Thurber was blinded in one eye in a childhood accident. He attended Ohio State University but left without earning a degree. In 1925 he moved to New York City, where he joined the staff of the New Yorker in 1927 at the urging of his friend E. B. White. For the rest of his lifetime, Thurber contributed to the magazine his highly individual pieces and those strange, wry, and disturbing pen-and-ink drawings of "huge, resigned dogs, the determined and sometimes frightening women, the globular men who try so hard to think so unsuccessfully." The period from 1925, when the New Yorker was founded, until the death of its creator-editor, Harold Ross, in 1951, was described by Thurber in delicious and absorbing detail in The Years with Ross (1959). Of his two great talents, Thurber preferred to think of himself primarily as a writer, illustrating his own books. He published "fables" in the style of Aesop (see Vol. 2) and La Fontaine (see Vol. 2)---usually with a "barbed tip of contemporary significance"---children's books, several plays (two Broadway hits, one successful musical revue), and endless satires and parodies in short stories or full-length works. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," included in My World---and Welcome to It (1942), is probably his best-known story and continues to be frequently anthologized. T. S. Eliot described Thurber's work as "a form of humor which is also a way of saying something serious."
Elwyn Brooks White was born on July 11, 1899, in Mt. Vernon, New York. After graduating from Cornell University, he worked briefly for an advertising agency and as a newspaper reporter before joining the staff of The New Yorker magazine in 1927. As a columnist for The New Yorker and a contributor to Harper's Magazine, White established a reputation as a prose stylist of exceptional elegance, clarity and wit. His interests, as reflected in his writing, were numerous and varied; his essays touched on such wide-ranging subjects as politics, farm animals, and life in New York City. White married Katharine S. Angell in 1929. They had one son, and in 1957 the family left New York for a farm in North Brookline, Maine. Writings from The New Yorker, 1927-1976 is a compilation of columns and essays produced during White's long relationship with the magazine. One Man's Meat, published in 1942, is a collection of his writings for Harper's. White adapted a short guide to English grammar and usage, The Elements of Style, from a college text written by one of his professors at Cornell, William Strunk Jr. It has sold millions of copies since it was first published in 1959 and has become a cherished resource for guidance in writing. White also co-authored Is Sex Necessary? with the humorist James Thurber, a fellow staff member at The New Yorker. E.B. White died on October 1, 1985 after succumbing to Alzheimer's. His diverse legacy also includes three children's books: Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. In 1970 the American Library Association presented White the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in recognition of his "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and received a special Pulitzer Prize citation for his body of work in 1970.