Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dancing Cats & Neglected Murderesses

While not as famous as Lizzie Borden, Edward Gorey's Neglected Murderesses could possibly be his second most reprinted group of characters (the first being the unfortunate children of the Gashlycrumb Tinies). First appearing in 1979 in Murderess Ink (see the previous posting), these 12 enterprising women have made appearances as postcards, in books and on calendars. This group of women always reminds me of the Six Merry Murderesses of the Cook County Jail from the musical Chicago. Each woman (and child) from the group stands for their portrait placidly, daring the viewer to find fault with their deed.

After their debut in 1979, Workman Publishers printed Dancing Cats and Neglected Murderesses as a trade paperback in 1980. This book did not use a Gorey-designed cover, but rather took two black and white illustrations and added color and standard type. The resulting volume does not really have the look of a "Gorey Book". The copy I am showing is inscribed to me by Mr. Gorey.

Mr. Gorey was so disappointed with the look of the Workman publication that he designed a new cover for this title. Using the interior sheets from the Workman edition, but adding a limitation page, Mr. Gorey issued a signed limited edition the same year as the Workman publication. Limited to 300 numbered and 26 lettered copies. The new cover gives the book a "Gorey look", but does little to improve the poor printing quality of the sheets within. I am showing copy #59/300.

Presumably still not happy with their previous appearances in print, Mr. Gorey then initiated a THIRD appearance of the ladies in 1980. Leaving Workman behind, Neglected Murderesses Postcards was finally printed full size to the original illustrations as a limited edition post card set. Issued in an illustrated envelope (no stated publisher), and limited to 250 signed/numbered copies on a separate limitation page, this Gorey title is quite scarce and can be difficult to obtain. I am showing copy #54/250.

Not content to linger in the past, our enterprising females also appear in The Betrayed Confidence and Amphigorey Again.

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