Edward Gorey Birthday Blitz

Do you like Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, and Lemony Snicket? Me too. Now let’s celebrate the artist who influenced them all: Edward Gorey. Today is his birthday.



“I just kind of conjured them up out of my subconscious and put them in order of ascending peculiarity.”

–Gorey on his creative process, from Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey

In honor of the date, here’s a survey of Gorey baubles collected through my own whim, i.e. neither authoritative nor comprehensive, but rather random and amusing.

The Basics

Gorey usually pops into the public consciousness for three particular projects: The Gashlycrumb Tinies, his opening to PBS Mystery!, and his costume/set design for the 1977 Broadway revival of Dracula.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963), a favorite of mine since childhood (this explains a lot), is a masterpiece in the art of anticipation.

Gorey Ida

The NYPL owns stills from the 1977 Broadway production of Gorey’s Dracula, which you can access online because the NYPL is amazing. The costumes for Dracula earned Gorey a Tony.

Sherlockian trivia: in 1978, Dracula went on tour with soon-to-be-Sherlock Jeremy Brett in the star role.

Set designed by Edward Gorey for the Broadway revival of the play "Dracula".
Set designed by Edward Gorey for the Broadway revival of the play “Dracula,” courtesy NYPL.

Gorey wrapped his tentacles lovingly around the minds of an entire generation through PBS. Watch the entire intro of PBS Mystery! created by Edward Gorey on PBS’ website.

Gorey, the Man: yes, that one, with the fur coats and Converse

In 2011 Mark Dery (who has an upcoming biography of Gorey from Little, Brown) wrote an excellent piece for the NYT about Gorey’s blossoming popularity, and how “Gorey was born to be posthumous.” Follow him on Twitter @markdery.

In April of 2014 filmmaker Christopher Seufert launched a Kickstarter project for an Edward Gorey Documentary. Watch the introductory film on the Kickstarter page—the film uses footage shot with Gorey from 1996 until his death in 2000. The final cut should be out this spring.

In the meantime, I recommend the appropriately bizarre memoir of Gorey by his friend Alexander Theroux, The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. We owe this work for the nugget that Gorey loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There’s an excellent review of it here.

Gorey + Internet = Happiness

The only thing creepier than the Gashlycrumb Tinies made into a GIF is an entire webpage filled with different windows where the GIF changes in unison across the screen.

Gorey Neville
Life goals.

Bridey Heing at The Toast on How to Tell if You’re in an Edward Gorey Book. Line of choice: “Your personal style can best be described as ‘librarian up to no good.”

Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, on his favorite Edward Gorey story.

Christopher Seufert has posted an interview with Mark Romanek, director of the Nine Inch Nails video A Perfect Drug, talking all about Gorey’s influence on the work.

Gorey appears in unexpected places, like private dining rooms, where The Doubtful Guest is painted on the walls. Thanks, Internet.

Doubtful Guest Dining Room

The Edwardian Ball: There is an annual California-based ball in celebration of all things Gorey. It looks to me like a Literary Carnevale, soaked in Edwardian-era Weird. Added that to the bucket list.

I Need to Own Things

If you ever need a gift for me, Gorey swag will do. The Edward Gorey House has a thrilling amount of Gorey objects available in their shop, including original signed etchings.

Gorey designed a great number of book covers, including a 7-year stint as art editor at Anchor books. Goreyography has an online exhibit of 60 paperback covers. Ugh…I’m going to start collecting these…aren’t I.

Gorey Anchor

If you’re on the fence, a good place to start is one of the Amphigorey books. The first contains 15 of his books in a single collection.


Did I mention gifts for me? Gorey wrote and illustrated over 100 books. There’s a Gorey for every occasion, even (especially?) Christmas. 

If you’re more into the rare and collectible side, Between the Covers is an excellent company with a lot of thrillingly bizarre Gorey. Of course, you can always contact me directly as well.


Gorey book

Edward Gorey’s personal library now resides in SDSU.

Goreyana: a well-kept source for Gorey news, along with useful commentary.

Goreyography: a digital gallery of Gorey art and info that was originally part of Zeno’s Used Books in California. I’m especially attracted to their section Edward Gorey in Japan.

Gorey Japanese

Edward Gorey Bibliography over at the Edward Gorey House website. Have fun with that.

Literary tourists, it’s important you know that the Edward Gorey House rocks. A 200-year old “sea captain’s home” in Cape Cod, Gorey moved there after George Balanchine’s death meant there was no reason to stay in New York (apparently). It’s closed right now, but reopens on April 15, 2016.

At the Edward Gorey House you can donate to charitable organizations which Gorey appreciated—most relating to animal welfare.

Can’t Forget About the Cats

Much as it pains me to say I owe something to Buzzfeed (just accept modernity, Rebecca), it’s through their article 30 Renowned Authors Inspired by Cats that I discovered my favorite Gorey portraits.

Gorey cats Gorey cats2

Happy Birthday, Mr. Gorey.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. solscorp says:

    This does explain a lot…

  2. Thanks again , I always learn so very much whenever I read you.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Rebecca, I also have learned so much from you. Thank you for another great article! Especially love the “librarian up to no good” piece. Funny stuff!

  4. Whenever I see Gorey’s work, I think of those PBS “Mystery!” title sequences you mention, which then always makes me think of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes series (which you also mention). Did Gorey ever directly illustrate the Canon?

    1. Not to my knowledge. I asked a friend of mine who collects art related to Sherlock Holmes. He knew only of one: a pastiche called Irene, Good-Night by D.B. Bensen. He sent me this picture of his copy, which I’m sharing with permission. Pretty neat.Gorey illustration of Irene

  5. Tony says:

    Thank you Rebecca 👍

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