Edward Gorey

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Edward Gorey
Gorey28.jpg
Gorey in the kitchen of his home at
Yarmouth, Cape Cod, 1999
Born
Edward St. John Gorey

(1925-02-22)February 22, 1925
DiedApril 15, 2000(2000-04-15) (aged 75)
NationalityAmerican
Education Art Institute of Chicago, Harvard University
Known forWriter, illustrator, poet
Notable work
The Gashlycrumb Tinies , The Doubtful Guest , Mystery!
Movement Literary nonsense, surrealism
AwardsTony Award (costume design); Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (writing)

Edward St. John Gorey (February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000) was an American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. [1] His characteristic pen-and-ink drawings often depict vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings.

Americans citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

Victorian era period of British history encompassing Queen Victorias reign (1837–1901)

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of Continental Europe. In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, this period began with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodist, and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by the colonial antagonism of the Great Game with Russia, climaxing during the Crimean War; a Pax Britannica of international free trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.

Edwardian era historical period (1901–1910)

The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history covers the brief reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes extended in both directions to capture long-term trends from the 1890s to the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victorian era. Her son and successor, Edward VII, was already the leader of a fashionable elite that set a style influenced by the art and fashions of continental Europe. Samuel Hynes described the Edwardian era as a "leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag."

Contents

Early life

Edward St. John Gorey was born in Chicago. His parents, Helen Dunham (née Garvey) and Edward Lee Gorey, [2] divorced in 1936 when he was 11, then remarried in 1952 when he was 27. One of his stepmothers was Corinna Mura (1909–1965), a cabaret singer who had a small role in the classic film Casablanca as the woman playing the guitar while singing "La Marseillaise" at Rick's Café Américain. His father was briefly a journalist. Gorey's maternal great-grandmother, Helen St. John Garvey, was a popular nineteenth-century greeting card writer and artist, from whom he claimed to have inherited his talents.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Corinna Mura was a cabaret singer and diseuse. She had a small role in the classic film Casablanca as the woman playing the guitar while singing "Tango Delle Rose" and "La Marseillaise" at Rick's Café Américain.

<i>Casablanca</i> (film) 1942 film by Michael Curtiz

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it also features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. Set during contemporary World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her husband, a Czech Resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Gorey attended a variety of local grade schools and then the Francis W. Parker School. He spent 1944 to 1946 in the Army at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. He then attended Harvard University, beginning in 1946 and graduating in the class of 1950; he studied French and roomed with poet Frank O'Hara. [3]

Francis W. Parker School (Chicago) independent school located in Chicagos Lincoln Park neighborhood

Francis W. Parker School is an independent school serving students who live in the Chicago area from junior kindergarten through twelfth grade. Located in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, the school is based on the progressive education philosophies of John Dewey and Colonel Francis Wayland Parker, emphasizing community and citizenship. Tuition and fees range from $29,710 for kindergarten to $37,240 for grade 12.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Dugway Proving Ground US Army facility in Tooele County, Utah, United States

Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) is a U.S. Army facility established in 1942 to test biological and chemical weapons, located about 85 miles (140 km) southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah and 13 miles south of the 2,624 sq mi Utah Test and Training Range forming the largest overland special use airspace in the United States.

In the early 1950s, Gorey, with a group of recent Harvard alumni including Alison Lurie (1947), John Ashbery (1949), Donald Hall (1951) and O'Hara (1950), amongst others, founded the Poets' Theatre in Cambridge, which was supported by Harvard faculty members John Ciardi and Thornton Wilder. [3] [4] [5]

Alison Lurie is an American novelist and academic. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1984 novel Foreign Affairs. Although better known as a novelist, she has also written numerous non-fiction books and articles, particularly on children's literature and the semiotics of dress.

John Ashbery poet from the United States

John Lawrence Ashbery was an American poet. He published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Renowned for its postmodern complexity and opacity, Ashbery's work still proves controversial. Ashbery stated that he wished his work to be accessible to as many people as possible, and not to be a private dialogue with himself. At the same time, he once joked that some critics still view him as "a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism."

Donald Hall American writer

Donald Andrew Hall Jr. was an American poet, writer, editor and literary critic. He was the author of over 50 books across several genres from children's literature, biography, memoir, essays, and including 22 volumes of verse. Hall was a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard, and Oxford. Early in his career, he became the first poetry editor of The Paris Review (1953–1961), the quarterly literary journal, and was noted for interviewing poets and other authors on their craft.

He frequently stated that his formal art training was "negligible"; Gorey studied art for one semester at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1943.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago independent school of art and design

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of America's largest accredited independent schools of art and design. It is located in the Loop in Chicago, Illinois. The school is associated with the museum of the same name, and "The Art Institute of Chicago" or "Chicago Art Institute" often refers to either entity. Providing degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, SAIC has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top graduate art programs in the nation, as well as by Columbia University's National Arts Journalism survey as the most influential art school in the United States.

Career

From 1953 to 1960, he lived in Manhattan and worked for the Art Department of Doubleday Anchor, illustrating book covers and in some cases, adding illustrations to the text. He illustrated works as diverse as Bram Stoker's Dracula , H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats . In later years he produced cover illustrations and interior artwork for many children's books by John Bellairs, as well as books begun by Bellairs and continued by Brad Strickland after Bellairs' death.

Manhattan Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Manhattan, often referred to locally as the City, is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City and its economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough is coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.

Doubleday is an American publishing company. It was founded as the Doubleday & McClure Company in 1897 and was the largest in the United States by 1947. It published the work of mostly U.S. authors under a number of imprints and distributed them through its own stores. In 2009 Doubleday merged with Knopf Publishing Group to form the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is now part of Penguin Random House. In 2019 the official website presents Doubleday as an imprint, not a publisher.

Bram Stoker Irish novelist and short story writer

Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish author, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

His first independent work, The Unstrung Harp, was published in 1953. He also published under various pen names, some of which were anagrams of his first and last names, such as Ogdred Weary, Dogear Wryde, Ms. Regera Dowdy, and dozens more. His books also feature the names Eduard Blutig ("Edward Gory"), a German-language pun on his own name, and O. Müde (German for O. Weary).

The New York Times credits bookstore owner Andreas Brown and his store, the Gotham Book Mart, with launching Gorey's career: "it became the central clearing house for Mr. Gorey, presenting exhibitions of his work in the store's gallery and eventually turning him into an international celebrity." [6]

Gorey's illustrated (and sometimes wordless) books, with their vaguely ominous air and ostensibly Victorian and Edwardian settings, have long had a cult following. [7] He made a notable impact on the world of theater with his 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. In 1980, Gorey became particularly well known for his animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery! In the introduction of each Mystery! episode, host Vincent Price would welcome viewers to "Gorey Mansion".

Edward Gorey House, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts (2006) Edward Gorey House 3.jpg
Edward Gorey House, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts (2006)

Because of the settings and style of Gorey's work, many people have assumed he was British; in fact, he only left the U.S. once, for a visit to the Scottish Hebrides. In later years, he lived year-round in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, where he wrote and directed numerous evening-length entertainments, often featuring his own papier-mâché puppets, an ensemble known as Le Theatricule Stoique. The first of these productions, Lost Shoelaces, premiered in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on August 13, 1987. The last was The White Canoe: an Opera Seria for Hand Puppets, for which Gorey wrote the libretto, with a score by the composer Daniel James Wolf. Based on Thomas Moore's poem The Lake of the Dismal Swamp, the opera was staged after Gorey's death and directed by his friend, neighbor, and longtime collaborator Carol Verburg, with a puppet stage made by his friends and neighbors, the noted set designers Herbert Senn and Helen Pond. In the early 1970s, Gorey wrote an unproduced screenplay for a silent film, The Black Doll.

After Gorey's death, one of his executors, Andreas Brown, turned up a large cache of unpublished work complete and incomplete. Brown described the find as "ample material for many future books and for plays based on his work". [8]

Personal life

Although Gorey's books were popular with children, he did not associate with children much and had no particular fondness for them. Gorey never married, professed to have little interest in romance, and never discussed any specific romantic relationships in interviews. In the book The Strange Case of Edward Gorey, published after Gorey's death, his friend Alexander Theroux reported that when Gorey was pressed on the matter of his sexual orientation, he said that even he was not sure whether he was gay or straight. When asked what his sexual orientation was in an interview, he said,

I'm neither one thing nor the other particularly. I am fortunate in that I am apparently reasonably undersexed or something ... I've never said that I was gay and I've never said that I wasn't ... what I'm trying to say is that I am a person before I am anything else ... Well, I’m neither one thing nor the other particularly. I suppose I’m gay. But I don’t identify with it much. [9]

Edward Gorey agreed in an interview that the "sexlessness" of his works was a product of his asexuality. [10]

From 1995 to his death in April 2000, the normally reclusive artist was the subject of a cinéma vérité -style documentary directed by Christopher Seufert. (As of 2016, the film has been screened as a work-in-progress; the finished film and accompanying book are in post-production.) He was interviewed on Tribute to Edward Gorey, an hour-long community, public-access television cable show produced by artist and friend Joyce Kenney. He contributed his videos and personal thoughts. Gorey served as a judge at Yarmouth art shows and enjoyed activities at the local cable station, studying computer art and serving as cameraman on many Yarmouth shows. His Cape Cod house is called Elephant House and is the subject of a photography book entitled Elephant House: Or, the Home of Edward Gorey, with photographs and text by Kevin McDermott. The house is now the Edward Gorey House Museum. [11]

Gorey left the bulk of his estate to a charitable trust benefiting cats and dogs, as well as other species, including bats and insects. [8]

Cover of The Willowdale Handcar (1962) Willowdale Handcar.jpg
Cover of The Willowdale Handcar (1962)

Style

Gorey is typically described as an illustrator. His books may be found in the humor and cartoon sections of major bookstores, but books such as The Object Lesson have earned serious critical respect as works of surrealist art. His experimentation—creating books that were wordless, books that were literally matchbox-sized, pop-up books, books entirely populated by inanimate objects—complicates matters still further. As Gorey told Lisa Solod of The Boston Globe , "Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable." [12] Gorey classified his own work as literary nonsense, the genre made most famous by Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.

In response to being called gothic, he stated, "If you're doing nonsense it has to be rather awful, because there'd be no point. I'm trying to think if there's sunny nonsense. Sunny, funny nonsense for children—oh, how boring, boring, boring. As Schubert said, there is no happy music. And that's true, there really isn't. And there's probably no happy nonsense, either." [13]

Bibliography

Gorey wrote more than 100 books, including the following:[ clarification needed ]

The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963) Gashlycrumb Tinies.jpg
The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963)

Many of Gorey's works were published obscurely and are difficult to find (and priced accordingly),[ citation needed ] however, the following four omnibus editions collect much of his material. Because his original books are rather short, these editions may contain 15 or more in each volume.

He also illustrated more than 50 works by other authors, including Samuel Beckett, Edward Lear, John Bellairs, H. G. Wells, Alain-Fournier, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot, Hilaire Belloc (where new illustrations to Cautionary Tales for Children [16] were published posthumously), Muriel Spark, Florence Parry Heide, John Updike, John Ciardi and Felicia Lamport.

Pseudonyms

Gorey was very fond of word games, particularly anagrams. He wrote many of his books under pseudonyms that usually were anagrams of his own name (most famously Ogdred Weary). Some of these are listed below, with the corresponding book title(s). Eduard Blutig is also a word game: "Blutig" is German (the language from which these two books purportedly were translated) for "bloody" or "gory".

Legacy

Gorey has become an iconic figure in the goth subculture. Events themed on his works and decorated in his characteristic style are common in the more Victorian-styled elements of the subculture, notably the Edwardian costume balls held annually in San Francisco and Los Angeles, which include performances based on his works. The "Edwardian" in this case refers less to the Edwardian period of history than to Gorey, whose characters are depicted as wearing fashion styles ranging from those of the mid-nineteenth century to the 1930s.

Director Mark Romanek's music video for the Nine Inch Nails song "The Perfect Drug" was designed specifically to resemble a Gorey book, with familiar Gorey elements including oversized urns, topiary plants and glum, pale characters in full Edwardian costume. [18] Also, Caitlín R. Kiernan has published a short story entitled "A Story for Edward Gorey" ( Tales of Pain and Wonder , 2000), which features Gorey's black doll.

A more direct link to Gorey's influence on the music world is evident in The Gorey End, [19] an album recorded in 2003 by The Tiger Lillies and the Kronos Quartet. This album was a collaboration with Gorey, who liked previous work by The Tiger Lillies so much that he sent them a large box of his unpublished works, which were then adapted and turned into songs. Gorey died before hearing the finished album.

In 1976, jazz composer Michael Mantler recorded an album called The Hapless Child (Watt/ECM) with Robert Wyatt, Terje Rypdal, Carla Bley, and Jack DeJohnette. It contains musical adaptations of The Sinking Spell, The Object Lesson, The Insect God, The Doubtful Guest, The Remembered Visit, and The Hapless Child. The last three songs also have been published on his 1987 Live album with Jack Bruce, Rick Fenn, and Nick Mason.

The opening titles of the PBS series Mystery! are based on Gorey's art, in an animated sequence co-directed by Derek Lamb.

In the last few decades of his life, Gorey merchandise became quite popular, with stuffed dolls, cups, stickers, posters, and other items available at malls around the United States.

In 2007, The Jim Henson Company announced plans to produce a feature film based on The Doubtful Guest to be directed by Brad Peyton. No release date was given and there has been no further information since the announcement.

The online journal Goreyesque publishes artwork, stories, and poems in the spirit of Edward Gorey's work. [20] The journal is co-sponsored by the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University Chicago. [21] Goreyesque was launched in tandem with the Chicago debut of two Gorey collections: Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey and G is for Gorey. The collections were shown at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) in Chicago, Illinois from February 15 to June 15, 2014. [22] [23] Goreyesque features the work of both emerging talents and seasoned professionals, such as writers Sam Weller and Joe Meno. [24] [25] [26]

See also

Contemporary American cartoonists with similar macabre style include:

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References

Notes

  1. Kelley, Tina (April 16, 2000). "Edward Gorey, Eerie Illustrator And Writer, 75". The New York Times.
  2. Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Edward Gorey". www.wargs.com.
  3. 1 2 Lumenello, Susan, "Edward Gorey: Brief life of an artful author: 1925–2000", Harvard Magazine , March–April 2007
  4. Sayre, Nora, "The Poets' Theatre: A Memoir of the Fifties", Grand Street , Vol. 3, No. 3 (Spring, 1984), pp. 92–105. Published by: Ben Sonnenberg
  5. "Open Book: Obsessed at Harvard", Harvard Magazine, January–February 2002
  6. Gussow, Mel (April 17, 2000). "Edward Gorey, Artist and Author Who Turned the Macabre into a Career, Dies at 75". The New York Times.
  7. Acocella, Joan, Edward Gorey’s Enigmatic World , The New Yorker, December 10, 2018 print edition under the headline "Funny Peculiar", with many illustrations
  8. 1 2 "The Data File: Gorey Discoveries", Locus , December 2000, p.11.
  9. Gottlieb, Robert (December 31, 2018). "Superb Oddities: Robert Gottlieb Reviews a Biography of Edward Gorey". The New York Times.
  10. Gorey, Edward (2002), Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey, Harvest Books, ISBN   978-0-15-601291-1
  11. McDermott, Kevin. Elephant House: Or, the Home of Edward Gorey. Pomegranate Communications (2003). ISBN   0-7649-2495-8 and ISBN   978-0-7649-2495-8
  12. Dery, Mark (November 6, 2018). Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey. Little, Brown and Company. p. 14. ISBN   978-0316188548.
  13. Schiff, Stephen. "Edward Gorey and the Tao of Nonsense." The New Yorker, November 9, 1992: 84–94, p. 89.
  14. Dery, Mark (2018-11-14). "The Birth, Death, and Long Afterlife of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  15. 1 2 "Gorey Games". abebooks.co.uk. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  16. http://www.goreyography.com/west/articles/CTFCreview020916.html A review of third reprint of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children interpreted using 61 of Edward Gorey's spare pen-and-ink illustrations
  17. Gorey, Edward (1993). Amphigorey Also – Edward Gorey. ISBN   978-0156056724 . Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  18. Interview with Mark Romanek, in the currently unreleased documentary by Christopher Seufert.
  19. The Tiger Lillies' webpage for this album Archived June 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine ; EMI 7243 5 57513 2 4
  20. Kogan, Rick. "Step inside Edward Gorey's weird, beautiful world". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  21. Chavez, Danette. "Goreyesque Wants Your Edward Gorey-Inspired Writing and Artwork". gapersblock.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  22. "Goreyesque About". Goreyesque.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  23. "Call for submissions: Columbia College Chicago's Department of Creative Writing seeks Goreyesque work". ChicagoNow . Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  24. "Selling to CTA riders, veterinary house calls and another Tea2Go". Crain's Chicago Business . 2014-02-25. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  25. "Goreyesque Issue 3". Goreyesque.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  26. "Goreyesque Issue 1". Goreyesque.com. Retrieved 11 April 2015.

Further reading