About Edward Gorey

Edward St. John Gorey (1925-2000) was an American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. He is probably the most famous illustrator of John Bellairs's books.

Gorey was born on February 22 in Chicago and attended Harvard University, where his roommate was poet Frank O'Hara. After college Gorey began illustrating book covers for Doubleday and working on his own novels, none of which he finished. He eventually turned to the smaller books on which he built his career, often using rhyme to tell weird tales with dark humor. Gorey also designed sets and costumes for several theater productions and staged his own "Gorey Stories" in 1978 in New York.

His costume design for the Broadway production of "Dracula" won a Tony Award in 1978. Gorey also wrote at least 90 books and illustrated 60 others. Most showed vaguely Edwardian characters in bleak settings, reacting in prim distress to strange situations, such as the intrusion of a penguin-like, sneaker-wearing creature in The Doubtful Guest (1957).

A set published in 1963 under the title The Vinegar Works featured a grisly alphabet book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, where "A is for Amy, who fell down the stairs" and "X is for Xerxes, devoured by mice." This and other titles were included in Amphigorey, an anthology of 15 stories bringing Gorey's work to a wider audience. It was followed in 1974 by Amphigorey Too and Amphigorey Also in 1983.

In the 1980s, Gorey moved to Cape Cod, where he led a small theater troupe that performed his works in plays and puppet shows. At the same time, his characters appeared on television in the opening and closing titles of the PBS series "Mystery!"

Gorey died at a hospital near his Cape Cod home after a heart attack on April 15.  His design for The Beast under the Wizard's Bridge (2000) was his last completed book work, having illustrated 21 books by John Bellairs and Brad Strickland. Strickland dedicated The Tower at the End of the World (2001) in his memory.

Gorey's home on Cape Cod, where he lived and worked from 1986 until his death in 2000, is currently a museum celebrating his life and work.


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