Whitney Darrow Jr (1909-1999) Whitney Darrow was a fluent, masterly draughtsman, who is best known for many gently satiric cartoons for The New Yorker, and especially those that focus on aspects of middle-class suburban life. Unusually among its contributors, he also wrote his own witty captions. Whitney Darrow was born in Princeton, New Jersey, on 22 August 1909, the son of Charles Whitney Darrow, a founding director of Princeton University Press, and May Temperance (née Barton). Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, he was educated at Greenwich High School and then Princeton University, where he majored in History. While at Princeton, he contributed parodies to the Daily Princetonian and took up the position of art editor for the Princeton Tiger. Following graduation in 1931, he spent his evenings painting at the Art Students’ League of New York, under Thomas Hart Benton, and his days drawing cartoons for several magazines, including Ballyyoo, Judge and Town Tidings.
At the age of 24, in 1933, he sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker, and soon became one of the most prolific cartoonist contributors, contributing 50 images a year, and the occasional cover. Many of these were republished in four collections, beginning with You’re Sitting On My Eyelashes (1943). In 1938, Darrow married the artist, Betty Waldo Parish, whom he probably met at the Art Students’ League, and who became best known as a printmaker. However, their marriage was not a success and, in 1942, he married Mildred Lois Adkins. Together they would have a son, Whitney Barton, and a daughter, Linda Ann. From the 1950s, Darrow worked increasingly as an illustrator, developing something of a speciality in drawing children, for books aimed at a range of readerships, both old and young. So he illustrated such adult titles as B M Attkinson’s What Dr Spock Didn’t Tell Us (1959) and Louise Armstrong’s A Child’s Guide to Freud (1963), and produced the images for such picture books as Robert Kraus’s Unidentified Flying Elephant (1968) and his own, I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl (1970). However, the last, which has been described as ‘the most sexist book ever’, is likely to have been satirical in intention, in undermining gender stereotypes, and so aimed at adults. Darrow retired from The New Yorker in 1982, having published more than 1,500 cartoons in the magazine. He lived latterly in Shelburne, Vermont, and died in hospital in Burlington, Vermont, on 10 August 1999. His work is represented in the collections of Princeton University Library, NJ.