Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gorey's First Appearance in Print

Edward Gorey was just 25 when his artwork had its first appearance in print. Six cartoons by Gorey graced the endpapers of Dr. Merrill Moore's Illegitimate Sonnets in 1950. In these cartoons, Gorey shows Dr. Moore administering to an ailing sonnet (the sonnet is the figure with a laurel wreath on his head). At the right, I show the front endpapers and below are the drawings at the back of the book. Instantly recog- nizable is Gorey's earliest style of drawing people with their exaggerated "basset hound" heads.

Gorey provided illustrations for three more books by Dr. Moore, Clinical Sonnets in 1950 (Gorey's endpaper cartoons appear in the 3rd printing of this title, the first two printings from 1949/1950 having no illustrations), Case Record from a Sonnetorium in 1951 (Gorey fully illustrated this title, including the cover and 51 interior illustrations), and finally More Clinical Sonnets in 1953 . In More Clinical Sonnets, Gorey once again provided interior illustrations throughout the text. These illustrations are very loose and sketchy and not the tighter crosshatched style that Gorey would soon develop more fully in The Unstrung Harp (see my blog posting for October 11, 2008).

While these books are somewhat rare, they can be found in the Psychology or Poetry sections of used book stores. When I came across my copy of Illegitimate Sonnets, the dealer did not realize it was an early Gorey item and had it priced quite reasonably.

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