Thurber had been able to type himself, on an Underwood 5 standard typewriter, when from 1913-17 he and his family rented a three-story Victorian-style house house on 77 Jefferson Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, which since 1984 has been known as Thurber House. There is an Underwood 5 on display there now, on a desk in what was once his bedroom, but whether it is Thurber's original Underwood 5 is uncertain. New York Times columnist Russell Baker visited the house in April 1989 and wrote:
Thurber was at the time an undergraduate at Ohio State University, where he was editor of the student magazine, the Sun Dial. He didn't graduate because his poor eyesight prevented him from taking a mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps course. But from 1918-20 he was able to take a position as a coding clerk with the United States Department of State, first in Washington DC and then at the American Embassy in Paris. On returning to Columbus, he began his career as a reporter for The Columbus Dispatch from 1921-24. Thurber returned to Paris during this period, when he also wrote for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.
Thurber was stricken with a blood clot on the brain in New York City on October 4, 1961, and underwent emergency surgery, drifting in and out of consciousness. The operation was initially successful, but Thurber died a few weeks later, on November 2, aged 66, due to complications from pneumonia. Doctors said his brain was senescent from several small strokes and hardening of the arteries.
Below, the Underwood 5 purported to be Thurber's:
It has sometimes been claimed that Thurber was related to the inventor Charles Thurber, but this was not the case. Charles Thurber patented the “Patent Printer” in 1843, the “Mechanical Chirographer” in 1845, the “Calligraph” (also spelled "Caligraph") in 1857 and again in 1860.