Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Hounds of Fate Original Artwork

Published in 1964 by Diogenes, Die Offene Tur is a book of stories by the English writer H. H. Munro (pen name Saki) with illustrations by Edward Gorey. This small, hardcover book with a dustjacket is a German language edition of these stories.

This collection, with the Gorey illustrations, was reprinted in English in 1981 as a leather bound book by the Franklin Library titled Saki Short Stories. The Franklin printing does not have all the stories (or illustrations) from the Diogenes printing, but does have one new illustration that was created by Mr. Gorey which did not appear in the German language version.

I have one piece of original artwork from this title which appears in the Diogenes printing, but unfortunately not in the English language edition. The intriguing title of the story it illustrates is The Hounds of Fate. Because I don't read German, I do not know the story that goes along with the illustration. This small piece of original art has a lot of atmosphere and evokes a mood of gloom. It is signed at the lower right.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from Goreyana!

Edward Gorey was a huge animal lover. So much so that his entire estate is devoted to helping animals in need. In that spirit, I am posting pictures of my two rescue dogs for your enjoyment this Christmas. Don't forget your local animal shelters this Holiday Season, Muzzy and Pepper have lots of orphan animal friends looking for homes.

Muzzy and Pepper are waiting for Santa to arrive.

Muzzy goes to bed early so Santa will know she is a good dog and leave her lots of treats.

Pepper thinks if she smiles nice for Santa, she will get an extra helping of dog treats for Christmas.
Pepper finds out that what she got from Santa was a gift certificate to the vet to have her teeth cleaned! Merry Christmas from Muzzy and Pepper!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Christmas Bower

The Christmas Bower is a charming holiday book by Polly Redford which was published in 1967 by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. Edware Gorey provided a wrap around watercolor dust jacket design as well as chapter titles and numerous full and partial page illustrations.

According to the flap copy, "Edward Gorey and Polly Redford were high-school classmates and promised each other that some day they would do a book together".

This is a story about a "store family" who have lost the holiday spirit because of all the hustle and bustle of running a large department store for many years. Through a series of misadventures one holiday season at the store, family priorities are put right again.

The only real "Christmas" illustration is the cover painting which shows the elaborate store displays that are the cause of all the troubles. Some of the main characters throughout the book are exotic birds who run amok in the store and Mr. Gorey has provided many detailed illustrations of specific species of rare birds. Because he is concentrating on being ornithologically accurate in his depictions, the bird drawings tend to look a bit stiff.

This is a lovely holiday read, and reminds me of the John Bellairs stories in tone (but without the ghosts).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Edward Gorey Limited Christmas Cards

Edward Gorey created a series of Christmas cards for Albondocani Press beginning in 1975 and ending in 1990. These cards were printed in limited editions and were sent by the publisher for their Christmas Greeting. The editions range from 350 to 450 cards and they were issued unsigned/unnumbered.

The three most famous images from the series are Gertude Stein Decorates a Dog for Christmas (1975), A Future Unremembered Poet from the Seventeenth Century accepts a Christmas Cookie from the Great Veiled Bear (1977), and Fruitcake (1990). Some of these cards have been reproduced in boxed sets, but the majority of the images were only issued for use by this publisher. Shown in the photos is the complete set of ten cards. All of the cards shown have been signed by Edward Gorey on either the copyright or limitation statements.

The cards were published in the following order:

1975 - Gertrude Stein as a child decorates a dog for Christmas - edition of 450
1977 - A Future Unremembered Poet from the Seventeenth Century accepts a Christmas Cookie from the Great Veiled Bear - edition of 450
1979 - Hertha Struggs Fifth Christmas - edition of 450
1981 - Ettie Lou Stopper does a tinsel dance at a tree trimming party in Gumsville, Nebraska, Christmas Eve, 1923. - edition of 450
1983 - Un cadeau ennuyeux - edition of 400
1986 - Noel chez les volants des Alpes Dolomites - edition of 400
1987 - In Stubville Nebraska on December 23,1911 Christmas tree ornaments fell from a cloudless sky. - edition of 400
1988 - L'Etoile en Orient - edition of 400
1989 - Christmas in the Eggplant Hills - edition of 400
1990 - Fruitcake - edition of 350

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Edward Gorey Christmas Booklet

Over the years, Edward Gorey created many Christmas drawings and illustrations. He illustrated Christmas themed books and even wrote his own - The Water Flowers. One of the more unusual Gorey Christmas items I have in my collection is this limited edition "Christmas Gift".

Limited to 150 signed, numbered copies, THE RETURN OF BINGO HUMPAGE, A Christmas Fable from Oceana is by Paul Theroux, and was used as "A Christmas Gift from Sheila Donnelly & Associates, Honolulu Hawaii, 25 December 1990". The booklet is stapled together and there is a piece of decorative raffia tied around the spine. The booklet came in a close fitting envelope with a matching larger mailing envelope (both unused). It is signed on the title page by Theroux and numbered on the limitation page at the rear of the booklet.

The cover illustration is by Edward Gorey, and he has signed the front of the booklet. Mr. Gorey has also hand colored one of the ornaments on the Christmas tree which the alligator is decorating. Different booklets had different ornaments colored in by Gorey. In the late 1990's Gotham Book Mart acquired about 7 of these booklets which had not been sent out, and each had a different ornament hand colored in red by EG. I acquired two of these unused booklets and indeed, each had different ornaments highlighted.

Apparently, this booklet was sent out in 1990 as a private Christmas Greeting by Shelia Donnelly. From 1967 to 1993, Paul Theroux was married to Anne Castle. In 1995 Theroux married Shelia Donnelly.

This small four page booklet contains the complete Christmas story written by Theroux. The story was commissioned by, and appeared in, the New York Times Book Review on December 2, 1990. The New York Times Book Review commissioned several holiday illustrations that year from Edward Gorey and asked for two additional drawings that would be shown to writers who would then write a short story based on the artwork. The Return of Bingo Humpage was Theroux's published submission.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Sinking Spell

Back with publisher Ivan Obolensky, Gorey's second book for 1964 is The Sinking Spell. This book was actually published in May 1965, but it has a copyright page which states the title was published in 1964, so there must have been publishing delays. The Sinking Spell matches the other books Gorey produced with Obolensky, and is a small paperback book. This title is included in Amphigorey. My copy is signed and inscribed to me by Mr. Gorey.

This is one of Edward Gorey's "gentle" stories. Something descends from the sky and continues its downward progress, entering a house and descending through it from top to bottom until it exits the dwelling out the basement floor. This charming, gentle story would be a great Gorey title to read with a younger child.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creating Your Own Gorey-esque Soap Story

While reading the newspaper a few years ago, I came across the "Soap Opera Update" in the television section. The update covered the past week and went through all the Soaps, telling what had happened on the shows. As I read these short sentences I was struck by how you could create a pseudo-Gorey story by taking one line from each soap and stringing them together.

Here is an example from the update by Dana Block that appeared in Monday's Minneapolis StarTribune. The Soaps involved are All My Children, As The World Turns, The Bold And The Beautiful, Days Of Our Lives, General Hospital, Guiding Light, One Life To Live, and The Young And The Restless.

David drugged Krystal's drink.
Dusty was arrested for shooting Paul during an altercation.
Tragedy struck during a heated argument between Rick and Phoebe.
Chloe decided to keep her engagement to Lucas a secret after hearing Kate's bad news.
A fire broke out in the cabin where Jake was being held.
Mel urged Bill to hide a scar that could implicate him in the kidnapping.
Viki disowned Todd.
Victor told Ashley about Jack forgetting the diary.

Not quite as inspired as Mr. Gorey's prose, but since he watched so much television, I think EG would have found this amusing! Now, if we just had some illustrations...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Nursery Frieze

One of Edward Gorey's more enigmatic offerings is The Nursery Frieze. This small oblong book has orange wrappers and the pages inside show a procession of hippopotamus-like creatures (they may well be hippos) parading in single file emitting seemingly disjointed words. Scattered about the landscape are large letters which seem random until you realize they string together to spell out - The Nursery Frieze by Edward Gorey.

The front cover of The Nursery Frieze has a large number 15 and on the reverse, is the word TWO. This signifies that this is Mr. Gorey's fifteenth published book and it is the second volume published by his Fantod Press. This title was published in an edition of 500 unnumbered copies and appears in Amphigorey Too. My copy is signed by Mr. Gorey (not all copies are signed).

What makes this book unique is that Edward Gorey created drawings that could be enlarged and used as a wallpaper frieze to go around the top of a room. That he calls it a frieze for a nursery implies that it will entertain and instruct the young inhabitant of the room. But with words such as dismemberment, mistrust and remorse, perhaps this frieze is actually intended for the nursery of The Beastly Baby! If this is an instructional frieze, then most of the words need to be looked up by many readers. Examples: etui, ganosis, thurible, accismus. It would have been interesting to play Scrabble with EG!

Photostat enlargements of this book were made by Gotham Book Mart and used as decoration for their booth at a New York Book Fair. Some of these enlargements were on display in the "old" Gotham on 47th Street positioned near the ceiling. These "full sized" papers have appeared on the market recently through Bromer Booksellers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friends Magazine Original Artwork

I have two pieces of original artwork that Edward Gorey created for Friends Magazine. The first is a delightful image of a small boy "flying" behind a large shaggy dog that is chasing a butterfly. This playful image shows the sweetness that Mr. Gorey achieved in many of his drawings of small children at play. This running dog piece is beautifully rendered with EG's fine line work drawn with a light touch. The lines of this piece look as though they barely touch the page, furthering the impression of movement.

I acquired this piece of artwork in 1993 from Gotham Book Mart. At that time, they had several pieces of original artwork from the collection of Robert Weeks who was the Friends art director and had commissioned illustrations from Mr. Gorey for Friends. The photos show a (fading) three page fax I received from Gotham at that time with the artwork from Friends they had available. In 1993, I was only able to get the dog piece. I recently acquired a second piece from this collection and will show it in a later post.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Friends Magazine

Created as a sales tool for automobile showrooms in the 1960's, Friends Magazine is an odd place to find Edward Gorey illustrations, but they are there! Chevrolet produced this magazine from 1960 until the mid/late 60's as a giveaway extolling the virtues of owning your own car so you could travel and see the "real" America. Article topics included places of interest, family pastimes and even recipes - usually for picnic foods. Of course, in between all the articles were ads for the latest cars being produced by Chevrolet!

I have an enlarging collection of Friends, some of which are shown below.

How did Gorey's artwork end up in a car magazine? The art director for Friends was a personal friend of Edward Gorey's. Robert Weeks commissioned spot illustrations for the magazine and the drawings Gorey created were primarily of children playing. Gorey presented the original drawings to Mr. Weeks after they were used, and they remained in his collection until 1993 when they were obtained by Gotham Book Mart, becoming available to the market for the first time. I will show some of these images in later posts.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Wuggly Ump

"Sing tirraloo, sing tirralay,
The Wuggly Ump lives far away."

That is one of my favorite beginnings to an Edward Gorey book. You just KNOW that the Wuggly Ump is not staying far away!!

Published as a hardcover book with a matching dust jacket in 1963 by J.B. Lippincott of Philadelphia/New York, The Wuggly Ump has the appearance of a carefree children's book. The illustrations are simple, colorful, and resemble the happy drawings Mr. Gorey has been creating for John Ciardi's books. Of course, books by Edward Gorey are rarely happy and carefree. What is a Wuggly Ump? Only Edward Gorey knew for sure, but this is the only book that this rare creature appears in.

This book is printed in three colors (like The Bug Book), but the colors were added at the printing stage and not on the original artwork. This gives the book a paint by number feel that is appropriate to the story, with the colored areas being flat solid tones which infill elements of the drawings.

The Wuggly Ump was reprinted in 1966 as a paperback book by Willy Whale Books. This reprint used an interior illustration and standardized type on the cover and is not nearly as attractive a book as the first edition. The book has only one interior color, a dark grey/blue that looks rather odd on the drawings. Little care was taken to use the infill of color to any great effect. This book was printed on very inexpensive acidic paper and is quite fragile now.

This story appears in Amphigorey, and is currently in print from Pomegranate Books. Both my first edition and WWB reprint of The Wuggly Ump are signed by Edward Gorey on the title page.