Thursday, March 31, 2022

Edward Gorey's Early Published Writing

I was recently contacted by Karen Roth, a fellow Edward Gorey enthusiast who did some detective work after reading my blog post about the publication of Saint Melissa the Mottled (November 3, 2012). In this post, I pondered if SMtM was the only example of Edward Gorey's college era prose writing to appear in the Radcliffe College publication Signature at that time.

Ms. Roth found that the Harvard University Library has digitized issues of Signature from 1947 - 1950 and that there are in fact three short stories and three poems by Edward Gorey published in the magazine. Saint Melissa is actually Mr. Gorey's fourth piece to appear in print.

  • Temperaments (poem, Vol. 2 No. 5, April 1948) 
  • On The Ultimate Evening Of Your Earthly Existence (poem, Vol. 4 No. 1, Fall 1949) 
  • All That First Evening (story, Vol. 4 No. 1, Fall 1949) 
  • Saint Melissa-the-Mottled (story, Vol. 4 No. 2, Winter 1949) 
  • Sonnet (sonnet, Vol. 4 No. 3, Spring 1950)
  • To Start On A Journey Is To Reach Its End (story, Vol. 4 No. 3, Spring 1950)

All of the pieces are credited as being written by Edward St. John Gorey except the first, Temperaments which is credited as Edward Gorey. To peruse the magazines and read all of Mr. Gorey's writings for Signature, go to this link:$1i

It is unfortunate that Signature did not ask Edward Gorey to create any illustrations for the publication.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Auction News: The Happy Ending

Edward Gorey's original artwork for The Happy Ending sold at Doyle Auction House in New York City on March 22, 2022 for $20,160.00 (hammer price plus buyer's premium). This exceptional full color piece was published 49 years ago in the March 1973 issue of National Lampoon Magazine. This was the "cover" for Mr. Gorey's five page spread that also included 12 black and white single panel cartoons (see my post from July 29, 2013).

The beautifully rendered image was very poorly printed in the magazine. In the print version, Edward Gorey's careful modulation of color was ignored and a sickly yellow green tone insinuates itself throughout the image. The shift in color flattens the painting, altering the focus and destroying the dramatic power of the piece. This is a prime example of how an artist's intent can be destroyed by insensitive reproduction.

The Doyle listing notes that this piece was consigned by the estate of Kathryn Graham. Ms. Graham (1947 - 2020) was a psychotherapist with a masters in social work. In 2005, she published a lengthy essay titled The Devils Own Art: Topiary In Children's Fiction (Children's Literature, Volume 33, published by Johns Hopkins University Press). Alongside several contemporary illustrators and antecedents, Edward Gorey's use of topiary in his works is discussed. The full essay can be read here: