Author of the Day: Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey was an American writer and artist, mostly known by his whimsical and unsettling pen-and-ink drawings usually set in Victorian and Edwardian periods. He died on April 15th, 2000, so I chose today as a fitting date to present him to anyone not familiar with his amazing work. When you think of illustrated books, what is the first thing to pop into your mind? I bet it’s children’s books? Well, not everything with a picture is suitable for kids, and you’ll soon find out why.


Gorey wrote and drew what can only be described as nonsense and surrealism. There is a huge connection between literary nonsense and kids, take a look at Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear as an example; but as children can relate to nonsense because of its silliness and lack of any kind of logic, the adults are the ones who actually find meaning in the nonsense writing, be that meaning a joke or a much deeper symbolism or satire, or, you know, no meaning at all.


Gorey has written and illustrated over 100 books, with many of those published obscurely and very difficult to find these days. His most famous work, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, is luckily widely available. It is an alphabet book, with each letter illustrating an untimely death of a child. Too morbid for you? Move along then.




Still here? Okay, the morbid humor of Tinies is mostly shown in the mundane ways in which these children die, such as slipping down the drain, falling down the stairs, choking on a peach, or, you know, drinking too much gin. It has been described as a “sarcastic rebellion against a view of childhood that is sunny, idyllic, and instructive”.



Other than Tinies, Gorey wrote a bunch of other short works, notably: The Doubtful Guest, The Unstrung Harp, The Blue Aspic, The Epiplectic Bicycle, The Beastly Baby, The Curious Sofa: A Pornographic Tale by Ogdred Weary. Most of his work is collected into several omnibus editions neatly named Amphigorey, Amphigorey Too, Amphigorey Also, and Amphigorey Again, in which you can find these cutely demented tales.

The Blue Aspic
The Epiplectic Bicycle

Gorey also illustrated works by authors such as Edward Lear, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Charles Dickens, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot and others. Other than illustrating Stoker’s famous novel, Gorey worked on theater designs for the 1977 Broadway revival of Dracula, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design. The set is magnificent and of course looks like it came right out of the pages of Gorey’s books.

Remember Gomez from The Addams Family?
The set

Speaking of Dracula, there is a toy theater based on the award winning set including pop-up stages and figurines.

Toy theater

Needless to say, Gorey was an eccentric personality, a Gothic genius, and his work has garnered a cult following. He was very fond of word games like anagrams, and wrote many of his books under pseudonyms that were usually anagrams of his own name, like Ogdred Weary. He left the bulk of his estate to a charitable trust benefiting cats and dogs, as well as other species, including bats and insects. If you would like to find out more about Gorey, a biography by author Mark Dery is coming out later this year, and a long-awaited documentary titled The Last Days of Edward Gorey is expected soon hopefully.

Gorey by Dery


17 thoughts on “Author of the Day: Edward Gorey

  1. I was just reading your comments about Gorey on your last TTT post, and he sounds so interesting! I don’t think I had ever heard about him, but his name came up a few days ago in something I was reading and it mentioned his illustrations. I love that you did a post on him, and I LOVE his illustrations! 1000% tempted to buy The Gashlycrumb Tinies now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. πŸ™‚
    I have even created an Instagram account for them ( https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/ ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. πŸ™‚

    Keep up the good work on your blog.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. oh wonderful πŸ™‚ Great article. Also personally really love macabre humor like this. you know the stuff that isn’t supposed to be funny, but is!

    Liked by 1 person

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