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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 22, 2007

UI Press republishes James Thurber's graphic parable 'The Last Flower'

The University of Iowa Press is republishing James Thurber's graphic novel "The Last Flower" on Nov. 1. Originally published in 1939, just after the beginning of World War II, "The Last Flower" was Thurber's "melancholy argument against annihilation." This new printing features fresh scans of Thurber's original drawings.

Thurber's parable in pictures -- a graphic novel ahead of its day -- about the eternal cycles of war, peace and love was described in the New York Times as "at once one of the most serious and one of the most hilarious contributions on war."

Civilization has collapsed after World War XII, dogs have deserted their masters, all the groves and gardens have been destroyed and love has vanished from the earth. Then one day, "a young girl who had never seen a flower chanced to come upon the last one in the world." Thurber dedicated the book to his only child "in the wistful hope that her world will be better than mine."

David Rees, author of "Get Your War On," said, "'The Last Flower' is on the short list of books worth clutching to your chest as the world is destroyed."

Cartoonist Seth, the creator of "Wimbledon Green," explained, "It's important to remember while reading this book that it was created just as the Nazi jackboots were beginning to stomp over Europe. Thurber took that staccato rhythm and used it as the underlying beat of his antiwar fable and you can feel it every time you turn the page. Combine that with a handful of hen-scratched pen lines and a few well-chosen words and you have a graphic work that manages to convey vulnerability, despair, and renewed hope, all with the trademark Thurber charm. Sadly, it is a work that is as relevant today as it was when first published."

The author of nearly 40 books, including collections of essays, short stories, fables, plays and children's stories, Thurber (1894-1961) created an acerbic world of beleaguered husbands, domineering women and fabulous animals. A native of Columbus, Ohio, he worked as a newspaperman before joining the staff of the New Yorker. A self-proclaimed "painstaking writer who doodles for relaxation," he began his career as a cartoonist when E. B. White, his New Yorker office mate, rescued his drawings from the trash.

"The Last Flower" is available for sale at bookstores or directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Thomas, UI Press, 319-335-2015,; Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),