English 430: Literature & the Visual Arts

Edward Gorey

Liz Caffey

English 430

October 29, 2009

Edward Gorey was an illustrator, animator and Tony Award winning costumer. He wrote and illustrated over 100 works including The Gashlycrumb Tinies. He was born and raised in Chicago and after WWII worked at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground where the Army tested poisonous gas. He later attended Harvard University where fellow students described him as “dandy with a high-speed brain and large-size appetite for art, literature, and music.” During this time he roomed with poet Frank O’Hara.


He was described by Harvard Magazine as a beloved author and illustrator for those with an absurdist sense of humor and a fondness for the fine line. His style was also described as Neo-Edwardian including the stories The Doubtful Guest, The Curious Sofa and The Loathsome Couple.

Gorey got his start illustrating covers for Anchor Books. Between 1953 and 1960 he illustrated about one fourth of the two hundred books published with line drawings on the covers. A slideshow of those covers including Chekov’s St. Peter’s Day And Other Tales as well as Joseph Conrad’s Chance are available here http://www.goreyography.com/west/paper/paper01.htm

The slideshow is a part of a website dedicated to the late artist and author http://www.goreyography.com/info/info.htm

The following images from The Gashlycrumb Tinies illustrate that absurd sense of humor and fondness for the fine line. The book runs through the alphabet with a character whose name starts with each letter and dies, all told in rhyming verse. Although the book may appear to be a children’s picture book the content is probably not for children.

The entire book can be found in video form on youtube accompanied by music.

Edward Gorey animated an intro for the PBS show Mystery

Here is a quote from Edward Gorey himself on his beginnings as a writer taken from the following site http://www.edwardgoreyfilm.com/

“The first things I wrote seriously, for some unknown reason, were plays. I think I may have copies of them…and I hope no one else has copies of them! But I wrote those when I was in the army and WWII and I don’t know why I decided to write. I suppose it must have been some strong, dramatic urge at the time but I never tried to get them put on, or anything.

They were all very exotic and filled with…they were pretentious in a

way and in another way, I don’t think they were as pretentious as they

might have been, let’s put it that way. I didn’t go in for endless,

dopey poetic monologues for people. They moved right along. They were rather bizarre, I think, rather overwritten in a way. I don’t even

remember what they were about, if anything.”

— Edward Gorey on his theatrical beginnings

Here is a video of Edward Gorey discussing his literary influences

And one last video where someone has made a narrated video of Edward Gorey’s story The Epipleptic Bicycle. It gives an ide of the type of stories Gorey wrote.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: