Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Sopping Thursday

This Christmas marks a milestone for my Edward Gorey collection. With the addition of the Deluxe Edition of The Sopping Thursday, I have now completed my "A Collection" books by Mr. Gorey. My partner Bill surprised me with lettered copy "M" under the Christmas tree. I am still missing a few lettered copies of other titles here and there, but since the only difference between these copies and the numbered editions is a letter rather than a number on the colophon page, I do not feel they are necessary for my book collection to feel complete.

Published in 1970 by The Gotham Book Mart as a limited edition of 300 signed/numbered copies and 26 deluxe signed/lettered copies, The Sopping Thursday celebrates the 50th anniversary of GBM. This is the first title by Edward Gorey to be published by GBM. The 300 numbered copies were published in stiff wrappers and signed/numbered by Mr. Gorey. The 26 deluxe lettered copies set this edition apart from books that Mr. Gorey has previously published.

The 26 lettered copies are specially bound in hardcover, slipcased and each contains an original drawing with a corresponding letter. The letter/limitation is positioned in the lower right hand corner of each drawing, together with Edward Gorey's signature in initial form.

The artwork for my copy shows a cat standing in the rain with a Chinese umbrella which is decorated with a large symbol. The Chinese symbol on the umbrella represents "a method, a way to do things, and/or a path" depending on your interpretation. This is very appropriate for the story of the book. The pen & ink artwork is executed in grey and black ink which gives the rain in the drawing a wet, oppressive feel. The cats appearing in the published story are realistically drawn, while the cats which appear in the 26 drawings are often strange hybrid animals with large human noses. To see the drawings which accompanied the lettered books, see my posting from March 26, 2009.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
from Goreyana

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Edward Gorey Christmas Cover for the New Yorker

This wonderful Christmas image was published on the cover of the New Yorker Magazine for the December 21, 1992  issue.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Decorating with Edward Gorey

This Edward Gorey illustration appeared in the New York Times in December 1984. While the father works on lighting the Christmas tree, his helpers are glued to the television set trying to decide what program to watch. It should be remembered that there were far fewer channels in 1984 than there are on television today. Of course, if Mr. Gorey were illustrating this scene today, the kids would be looking at iPads or Smartphones!

I particularly like the piles of VHS tapes stacked up around the television (no DVD or Blue Ray in 1984). Mr. Gorey was an inveterate taper of TV programs and two of the programs (To The Manor Born & Fawlty Towers) are particular favorites of mine.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Avoiding Christmas with Quentin Crisp and Edward Gorey

For the curmudgeons amongst us, Quentin Crisp's essay entitled Avoiding Christmas is a wonderfully grouchy approach to the Holiday Season. Appearing in the New York Times on November 15, 1987, Mr. Crisp's writing is illustrated with a charming color drawing by Edward Gorey. The drawing looks as though everyone is having a jolly time until you realize that it is inspired by the sentence, "You may even find yourself wearing a paper hat, pulling crackers and crawling around on the floor with other people's children". To read the full piece you can go here.

Mr. Crisp was born on Christmas Day in 1908 and managed to avoid his 91st celebration of the Yuletide Season by passing away on November 21, 1999.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Edward Gorey Travel Observations

This Edward Gorey Being Brave Abroad travel segment appeared in the New York Times in March 1986. This four panel color format was used by Mr. Gorey on numerous occasions and several of these "outings" are included in Amphigorey Again.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Haunted Travels

This time of year is often filled with travel to visit family and friends, but what if your travel plans could include visits with departed souls? No matter which part of the world you visit, you will always find tales of supernatural happenings and there are a handful of hotels that are reported to be haunted.

If you decide your vacation would not be complete without one of these spooky accommodations,  the June 1998 Travel & Leisure Magazine published an article listing a handful of haunted hotels. Of course, the article is illustrated by Edward Gorey!

The illustrations by Mr. Gorey feature disturbed guests with wide stares. This should not be a surprise since they have all just seen ghosts in their hotel rooms, lobbies, and elevators! The illustrations are simply presented with humor that matches the writing style of the article.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gashlycrumb Tinies Limited Edition Portfolio

This year, Edward Gorey fans worldwide have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Published in 1963 as part of The Vinegar Works, the Tinies have come to be regarded as Mr. Gorey's masterpiece creation. The Edward Gorey House has showcased the original artwork in a yearlong exhibition that closes on the 29th December.

As this milestone anniversary year winds to a close, The Edward Gorey House has provided a perfect way to cherish the Tinies for years to come. A limited portfolio edition has just been issued which includes 27 prints (a print of each letter plus the cover art). The portfolio edition is strictly limited to one hundred numbered sets and twenty-six lettered sets.

Images are printed at their original size of 5" x 6" on 8" x 10" art paper. Housed in an attractive portfolio are all the prints plus an additional celebratory title-card and a colophon card giving the details about this unique edition.

The new celebratory title-cards and the colophon cards are blind-embossed with Gorey’s signature. In addition, each item within the set will be marked with the set’s identifying number or letter.

The 26 lettered sets include as a bonus a plate of the rejected “F is for Fanny” image (“rejected” by Edward himself who chose to re-work it for the final book). This unused version is currently on view as part of the 2013 exhibit and is being reproduced separately for the first time.

To order your set, contact The Edward Gorey House.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doubtful Guest Doll

One of Edward Gorey's most beloved characters is the Doubtful Guest. Making its first appearance in 1957 in the book of the same name, all we really know of the creature (is it an animal??) is that it wears sneakers and a long striped scarf, appears mysteriously, and does not leave. As it takes up permanent residence with a Victorian family, it shows all the characteristics of a beloved pet and a petulant child.

In 1974, the Doubtful Guest was gloriously brought to life as a Gorey-approved, three-dimensional, hand-made doll. Limited to 50 numbered copies and several lettered copies (A - D) - the limitation is hand written by Edward Gorey on tags which were sewn onto the doll's scarf - the highly detailed DG doll was issued in a box with a paper label affixed to the lid. I am showing doll #21/50. According to Goreyography, a set of lettered dolls were produced in 1995 by the same makers of the original limited edition and each bears a signature label.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


We had the first snow of the season last night.

Be careful when wandering out into the snow!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Edward Gorey Review

After my last post, I have heard about a couple of reviews and written pieces by Edward Gorey that appeared in newspapers. These are very difficult to come across, and I must thank a reader of this blog for the scan below. In this book review dated November 5, 1967, Edward Gorey writes for the Chicago Tribune about a book titled Animal Gardens by Emily Hahn.

The book discusses the subject of keeping animals in a zoo environment and presents the pros and cons of this practice, along with interesting animal facts. Animal welfare is a concern that Edward Gorey was passionate about, and his estate is dedicated to promoting the welfare of all creatures, great and small.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Edward Gorey - Book Reviewer

While studying some Edward Gorey - related scans of magazine articles, I ran across this piece which was published in the May 1986 issue of Vogue.

This is interesting not only for the illustration created for the article, but even more so because Mr. Gorey has been persuaded to write the book review himself. The book series he reviews is the Lucia series by E. F. Benton which are a particular favorite of his. This series gets mentioned numerous times in interviews with Mr. Gorey as a favorite of his, even though he describes the books as being, "Written with great good nature and the lowest possible view of human nature".

Saturday, October 19, 2013

On This Day In History...

Here is an odd coincidence...

On Friday October 20, 1882 Bela Lugosi is born. The famed Hungarian actor is best remembered for his starring role in Dracula, both on Broadway in 1927 and the classic 1931 film. Edward Van Sloan also appears in both the stage and screen versions portraying Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. The 1927 Broadway version opened on Wednesday October 2, 1927 and ran for 261 performances, closing on Saturday May 19, 1928.

Fast forward to Thursday October 20, 1977 for the Broadway opening of Edward Gorey's Dracula starring Frank Langella. This production will play 925 performances before closing on Sunday January 6, 1980.

Friday, October 18, 2013

That Time of Year...

Would you like to have your fortune told? Edward Gorey Fantod Pack readings now through Halloween!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Trip To NYC

A recent trip to New York City had us running from one end of Manhattan to the other in pursuit of art, books, exhibitions, friends and theater. One highlight of the trip was a visit to the New York Public Library where there is a special exhibition on the history of children's books entitled The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter. The exhibit showcases many examples of famous and lesser known authors and illustrators and will be on display until March 23, 2014.

Unfortunately, Edward Gorey was not included in the line-up, but the display gives visitors a chance to see many of his influences and inspirations. Of particular interest to Goreyphiles is an example of an early moral primer which inspired The Eclectic Abecedarium.

Also on display is a book of original drawings and limericks by Edward Lear (see photo at the top of the post) and four original John Tenniel pencil drawings from Alice in Wonderland, which are so finely drawn as to be almost non-existent on the paper - the precision and line control really reminded me of original artwork by Edward Gorey.

There are too many other books and pieces of artwork to list. The exhibition is free and is well worth a visit.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Goreyana Turns Five!

"Welcome to my Edward Gorey blog." This was the first sentence of my first post on October 5, 2008. I began Goreyana ~ my collecting blog devoted to the works of Edward Gorey five years ago today and as of this morning, my blog has just topped 200,000 visits.

I could not be more thrilled and I would like to thank everyone who has visited this blog and has enjoyed my posts. I have especially enjoyed hearing from others with an interest the work of Edward Gorey. Your comments and questions keep me writing and researching topics of interest. I look forward to the next five years.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Bell, The Book and The Spellbinder Original Artwork

The Bell, The Book, and the Spellbinder by Brad Strickland (continuing the stories by John Bellairs) was published in 1997 and features a wrap around dust jacket design by Edward Gorey.

It is always exciting to see Edward Gorey's original paintings from the Bellairs series. As with most of Mr. Gorey's original artwork, in person the images appear to be larger than the printed versions, when in fact they are executed 100% to the final printings. As can be seen in the image above, the painted background on this piece extends well beyond the crop marks which indicate the dimensions of the jacket and where the spine will be positioned.

Mr. Gorey usually stays close to the crop marks when painting the outside edges of the art, and the crosshatched parts of this image do just that. The watercolor background swirls and fairly bursts at the edges giving the painting a wild, stormy look. Because of this, the original artwork has much more movement than the cropped image on the printed dust jacket.

Mr. Gorey always hand drew the typography for the Bellairs covers as a separate piece of art. This way he was able to work with India Ink and have the type reversed to appear white on the final printing. Working this way allowed him more freedom to paint, while keeping the type crisp on the final dust jacket. When designing the artwork, Mr. Gorey also had to consider the practical needs of the publisher. The lower left corner of the back was left free for the UPC code, and while he hand wrote "Dial" on the spine, he had to leave room for the official publisher's logo.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cabaret Macabre

Happenstance Theater is a professional theatrical company which performs in various venues in and around Maryland. In what is becoming a highly anticipated Fall tradition, the company will be performing an all new Cabaret Macabre~ a theatrical piece inspired by "Edward Gorey, Victorian nightmares, dangerous croquet, Gothic romance, afternoon tea, and the perils of the deep".

Now in its 4th year, this annual excursion will be performed in Silver Spring, MD in October & November, and will also be part of the New Orleans Fringe Festival in November. To find out more about this unusual theatrical event, click here. Be sure and watch the Dangerous Croquet video from last year's show!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who Would You Like To Meet?

On Sunday September 8, The New York Times Sunday Book Review interviewed Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri. One of the questions put to her was "If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be?" Click here to read her answer...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Writing a Collecting Blog

I was asked by The Edward Gorey House to provide a short piece about writing this blog. They have published my piece on their website, which can be read here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Amphigorey Limited Edition Cat Artwork Continued

Amphigorey, Edward Gorey's first compilation book, was published in 1972 by G. Putnam's Sons, New York. The book was originally published in a hard cover binding with a matching illustrated dust wrapper. A special signed/numbered/slipcased edition of Amphigorey was also produced at that time in an edition of 50 copies. Each of these special copies was accompanied by a piece of original artwork featuring a cat. Each drawing was numbered within the artwork to match the book it went with.  (See my posting from April 15, 2009 for more information about this edition of Amphigorey)

I recently learned of two additional numbered drawings - #51 & #52. I acquired drawing #51 and have seen #52. Drawing #51 shows a cat sitting on top of a hill (or flat topped rock) holding a small evergreen branch with a treetop star above its head. The number of the drawing appears within the star. This image has been issued as a Christmas card with the number removed and the colors changed to red & green.

Drawing #52 shows a levitating cat from behind wearing striped leg warmers. This cat is holding a trumpet and the number is written on the floating scarf which appears to have slipped from the cat during its heavenly ascent. (This piece of artwork is not in my collection)

The story associated with these two drawings is that Edward Gorey was originally going to do 100 limited edition copies of Amphigorey and that he decided to halt the limitation at 50, but there are a couple of problems with this story...

I have seen three original pieces of artwork from Amphigorey in person, and each of these have been drawn on vertically orientated pieces of paper. The placement of the artwork is toward the upper part of the paper with the lower third completely blank. Drawing #51 is executed on the same size piece of paper, but the paper is horizontally orientated and the artwork is centered (see photo below).  I have not seen #52 outside of its frame, but the framing matches #51, so I assume it is the same.

The greater mystery appears on the back of the artwork. On the reverse side in Mr. Gorey's hand, Cat #51 is dated December 7, 1980 at the lower right hand corner. This date is eight years after he created Amphigorey drawings #1 - #50. This date creates more questions than it answers.

When creating drawings for publication as an "A Collection" book, Edward Gorey would place a date on the back of each drawing he was creating for the proposed volume. This date would indicate when he actually drew/painted the piece of art. A single date meant that he finished the art in one day, a double date indicates which days he began and completed the piece. The original Amphigorey cat drawings are not dated because they were pieces of artwork and were not intended for publication even though they would appear as Categor y, published by Gotham Book Mart in 1974.

The most plausible explanation for the existence of these two drawings is that Mr. Gorey was approached by someone (most likely Gotham Book Mart) to continue the numbered cat drawings starting at #51 and continuing to #100 as a sequel to Categor y. This would account for the number within the artwork and the date on the back of the drawing. The fact that only two additional drawings exist shows that the idea did not get very far before Mr. Gorey lost interest and decided to stop.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Worsted Monster by Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey would often preview new works in magazines and later publish them as books. There are a number of pieces that appeared in periodicals which have never (as yet) appeared outside the original magazine publication. One such piece is The Worsted Monster.

The Worsted Monster is a toy theater, complete with three act libretto, that appeared in the June 1975 issue of National Lampoon as part of their Rainy Day Sunday Funbook Issue. The sets and participants are printed on stiff card stock within the magazine, but because they are printed on both sides of each page, someone would have had to buy two copies of the magazine to actually cut out and perform the play.

Mr. Gorey pulled out many of his pseudonyms for this piece. It was written by Eduard Blutig, translated by Mrs. Regera Dowdy and shows the original decor and costumes by O. Mude.  The play itself is a delight to read and is full of Mr. Gorey's innovative wit.

Each of the three acts has a full color backdrop, a cast of costumed characters, various set furnishings, and props which can be cut out and placed inside the proscenium arch on the first page. There are two interior backdrops (Act 1 & Act 3) and one exterior - The Fearful Wood (shown above) which is used for the Prologue and for Act 2 (note the calling card in the lower right hand corner that Mr. Gorey included in all his primary works). Each of the backdrops are wonderfully detailed.

The Worsted Monster remains one of Edward Gorey's hidden masterpieces from the most prolific time of his career. Perhaps one day it will be published so it can finally take its place amongst his other primary works.

Friday, August 9, 2013

National Lampoon Edward Gorey Cover

The June 1975 edition of National Lampoon magazine features a cover by Edward Gorey. The artwork is beautifully rendered in full color. The theme of the issue is Rainy Day Sunday Funbook Issue. The drawing is titled "A dozen stupid things to do on a wet Sunday afternoon (key within)".

The key appears on page 5 and lists:

1. Drop grapes from an upstairs window.
2. Collect all the toothpicks in the house into a pile and pour glue over it.
3. Hang yourself from a chandelier.
4. Set fire to your toothbrush.
5. Catch raindrops in your nose.
6. Climb the curtains.
7. Mutilate the ornamental shrubbery.
8. Stare at the woodwork.
9. Recite and identify bits of apropos poetry.
10. Poke the cat.
11. Sit in the birdbath.
12. Try to figure out what the dozen stupid things to do on a wet Sunday afternoon are.

This issue also contains The Worsted Monster (next post).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Edward Gorey's The Happy Ending

The Happy Ending by Edward Gorey is a fanciful collection of captioned images which was published in the March 1973 issue of National Lampoon Magazine. The cover of the magazine (not by Mr. Gorey) shows the path to Good Taste (clowns and a barrel of monkeys) and to Bad Taste (cutting remarks and uncalled-for smut), so the pieces fit right in with the rest of the magazine!

The Happy Ending appears near the back of the magazine and has a wonderful "cover" image done in full color and twelve individual spot illustrations collected onto four pages. Often, Mr. Gorey would create more images than appear in magazine spots and it would be fun to know if there are more images associated with this title. Two of the pieces included in this work stand out for having a distinctly gay theme. Many of Mr. Gorey's magazine pieces would later be turned into books and it is a shame that this one never was.

The twelve spots are executed in two distinct styles - six are drawn in pen & ink and feature crosshatching while the remaining half dozen are painted using watercolors. I am also curious as to whether the watercolor pieces are executed in color or are in grey tones. My guess would be that, like the images created for The Broken Spoke in 1976, at least some of the paintings are probably done in color but the magazine printed them in black & white.