Edward St. John Gorey

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Edward Gorey was a man blessed with a serendipitous name. The delightfully morbid author, illustrator, and theatrical jack-of-all-trades was known for his Edwardian/Victorian styling and tales of humorous misfortune. Although he is often compared to Tim Burton, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) might be a better approximation given the similarity between their quirky, slightly upsetting storytelling; even Brett Helquist‘s gangly gothic figures bear a striking resemblance to Gorey’s cross-hatching.

Gorey began his career with only two semesters of formal art education and initially worked for a publishing company before splitting off to pursue his own interests. From his ancient house in Cape Cod he worked on the PBS show Mystery! and more than seventy books of drawings, including the weird and wonderful alphabet classic The Gashlycrumb Tinies, in which every letter illustrates a child perishing in an absurd fashion. (For example: “‘F’ is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech/’G’ is for George smothered under a rug”.)

As macabre as his creative talents may have been, Gorey himself was reportedly a good-natured fellow who adored his cats and would slip into a falsetto voice during conversations just to entertain. When he was asked if he was gay, he responded that he was “neither one thing or the other particularly,” and that he was “reasonably undersexed or something”; he also attributed the sexlessness in his work to his asexuality.

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