Lobsterman Jim Henry Learns to Read at 91, Writes Book at 98

Jim Henry, an illiterate lobsterman, taught himself to read and write at age 91.

Jim Henry, a former lobsterman from Stonington, Conn., is living proof that it’s never too late to start learning.

Henry was forced to quit school in 3rd grade to help his family financially. He never had the opportunity to learn to read.

Even so, he did very well for himself: He captained a lobster boat, served in the National Guard, and learned enough carpentry skills to build his own home. Most people weren’t aware of his illiteracy: When dining at restaurants, he simply ordered whatever his companion was having since he couldn’t read the menu. He was able to pass without problems.

But at age 91, he heard the story of George Dawson, an African-American man who learned to read and write at age 98, and was inspired. He realized that it wasn’t too late for him to learn.

Henry began studying educational books intended for elementary school students, and spent months practicing his handwriting. His hard work paid off: He recently published an autobiography about his life on the seas called “In a Fisherman’s Language.” He released the book at age 98, just like his hero, George Dawson.

“I feel so good about doing this. I don’t know what to do or what to say,” Henry told WTNH. “I feel like I was just born.”