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The Gorey Bits

Updated on January 3, 2013

Welcome To The Gorey Bits

This light-hearted lens is a tribute to Edward Gorey, a consummate writer and iconic illustrator. Those with a gluttonous appetite for gothic giggles or mirthful morsels of the macabre, will surely get their fill of dastardly drawings and downright frightening fiction from this witty wordsmith and amusing artist.

WARNING: Happy homo sapiens may feel offended by all the ghastly, ghoulish Gorey bits. So, either proceed with caution or, simply take life with a grain of salt like Edward Gorey.

Edward Gorey (1925-2000)

A self-portrait in his classic pen and ink drawing style.

"An American original . . . one of [the twentieth] century's foremost eccentric geniuses."

-- Print Magazine

Introduction To The Gorey Details

Some might say that Edward Gorey was an eccentric recluse who preferred the company of cats to the claptrap and hubris of homo sapiens. To understand Gorey, is to understand his saturnine if not sardonic view of the daily round:

"Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that's what makes it so boring."

So, it is not surprising that Gorey would find an avenue to relieve his sense of ennui through the use of words (or no words) and images.

When asked how he would describe his absurd form of writing he said that it would most properly fit into the "landscape of literary nonsense", adding further that, "To take my work seriously would be the height of folly."

To collectors of facts, Edward St. John Gorey, (1925-2000), was an noted American author and iconic illustrator of more than a hundred macabre-themed manuscripts.

If truth be told, Gorey had little if any formal art training, spending but one semester in School of Art Institute of Chicago during World War II and four years at Harvard College. Inspite of his limited artistic training, he did pursue a career as a book illustrator in New York.

In fact, any first-time author, might well be inspired by his perseverence in the face of rejection, which he experienced many times before successfully self-publishing his first independent work in 1953, an unusually-titled tome, "The Unstrung Harp".

We have a hint of his eccentricity not only in the use of odd titles, but also his use of a variety of peculiar pen names (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).

Later when interviewed about his penchant for off-beat themes, odd plots and obscurely-named characters, he replied: "I just kind of conjured them up out of my subconscious and put them in order of ascending peculiarity."

When asked why his books are often focused on death and the dark side of things, he declared: "What I'm really interested in is everyday life. It's dreadfully hazardous. I never could understand why people always feel they have to climb up Mount Everest when you know it's quite dangerous getting out of bed." ("Gothics by Gorey" Newsweek, October 31, 1977)

Gorey also was a set and costume designer for many theater productions from Cape Cod to Broadway-including a celebrated staging of "Dracula", for which he received a Tony award. His well-known animated credits for the PBS series "Mystery!" introduced his recognizable black and white cross-hatched drawing style to millions of television viewers.

Amusing Absurdity and Morbid Mirth

For those who appreciate the amusing absurdity of life, they will find in Edward Gorey a true friend indeed.

One entertaining bit of entymology came to life in 1960 as The Bug Book. For those who adore adventure with a twist where a group of friendly, happy, colorful bugs find themselves threatened by a large bullying Black Bug who promptly imprisons them in a bottle. They escape and drop a large rock on him, squashing him flatter than a pancake. In a twisted bit of glee, they "slipped the remains into an envelope. And left it propped against the fatal stone to be mailed." (The address is "To whom it may concern.")

It is said that The Wuggly Ump, written in 1963 is likely a conscious nod to Lewis Carroll and his love of very odd beasts. In typical Gorey fashion, Edward comes up with a crazy creature who lives far away, and enjoys eating "umbrellas, gunny sacks,/ Brass doorknobs, mud, and carpet tacks." The happy little children sing the rhyming verse about the creature while having a jolly good time like all merry munchkins do. And, in a charming bit of morbid mirth, the wee widdums end up inside the creature where they "sing glogalimp, sing glugalump,/ From deep inside the Wuggly Ump" (who needless to say has a rather large grin on his face).

The Inanimate Tragedy, written in 1966, can best be described as a dramatic tragedy involving office supplies and odds and ends one might find in a kitchen drawer (needles, pen tips, thumbtacks, buttons, knotted string).

A MASTER OF THE COMIC MACABRE - What's not to like about a man who creates 50 years worth of lovely little monstrosities for the discerning reader?

In typical Gorey fashion,

"He was cremated and his ashes were thrown into Barnstable Harbor on a rainy, overcast day."

"Edward Gorey, the artist and author who was a grand master of the comic macabre and delighted generations of readers with his spidery drawings and stories of hapless children, swooning maidens, throbblefooted specters, threatening topiary and weird, mysterious events on eerie Victorian landscapes, died on Saturday at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass. He was 75 and lived in Yarmouth Port, Mass."


Source: New York Times Obituary

A Gorey Spectacle - Or, which ones are not Gorey stories?

Which of the following titles are neither written nor illustrated by Edward Gorey

See results

What's Happening In The Gorey Hollyfuds? - Or...Please Stay Tuned for the Pornographic Parlour Games

A clothing-optional comedy of connubial capers, The Curious Sofa: A Pornographic Work is rather ribald romp for adult readers only. While there no nude or 'bump and grind' scenes, there are some revealing moments.

Gorey uses the power of suggestion to great effect as group of upper-class dissolute men and women gather together for what is strongly implied to be variations on the theme of spin the bottle. There are illustrations of participants with "wooden legs, with which they could do all sorts of entertaining tricks," as well as references to"an astonishing little device," and mentions of an odd assortment of games referred to "thumbfumble" and "the Lithuanian Typewriter."

The titled "famous sofa," of course:

"...stood in a windowless room lined with polar bear fur and otherwise empty; it was upholstered in scarlet velvet, and had nine legs and seven arms.

As soon as everybody had crowded into the room, Sir Egbert fastened shut the door, and started up the machinery inside the sofa.

When Alice saw what was about to happen, she began to scream uncontrollably... .

Readers however never see more than the edge of this "famous sofa" or even have a hint of what role it plays in the shaggy dog rug story. Those waiting for a heavy-breathing climax to this suggestive story, are treated only to the final illustration -- showing the end of the sofa and a discarded bunch of grapes on the floor. Which reminds me, where did I put my copy of the "Grapes of Wrath"?

The Epipleptic Bicycle

NOTE: For those with an aversion to black birds, black obelisks, and black bicycles (built for

THE GOREY DETAILS POLL - How well do you know your Gorey details?

Which one of the following characters does not appear in any books by Gorey?

See results

Gorey Giggles for Gothic Guys & Gals - The Gashlycrumb Tinies Come to Life!

WARNING: Pollyanna personalities possessing strong, sunny dispositions or those requiring rose-colored glasses to view the world may be offended by watching the following "Gorey Bits". Please avoid any tummy troubles, and return to your previous yoga position (with your head in the clouds and your feet touching the ground.)

"GOREY" GREETINGS ON HALLOWEEN - From The Gashlycrumb Tinies and Ghouls Around the Globe


Image Credit: - buttercupmojojo; Book cover illustration by Edward Gorey, "The Gashlycrumb Tinies"


Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey
Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey

A great gift for those who appreciate poison pen and ink!

The Strange Case of Edward Gorey
The Strange Case of Edward Gorey

A bon-bon of a book about Edward Gorey, written by a close friend, Alexander Theroux.

Edward Gorey Calendar 2013
Edward Gorey Calendar 2013

A very curious calendar indeed.

A Halloween Treat
A Halloween Treat

A hilarious horror story.

The Osbick Bird
The Osbick Bird

Birds of a strange feather often flock together as this short tale reveals.


The Twelve Terrors of Christmas might just scare the pants off Santa Claus!


Image Credit: -

Gorey Greetings from Santa!


If real men read ... then pity those poor macho men who can't devour a robust, ripsnorting romance novel in one sitting, or savor the taste of a pithy piece of paramour poetry without oodles of pretty pictures, or perhaps successfully assemble a piece of furniture made in Timbuktu that comes with dazzling diagrams and instructions in 42 languages.

So, if you're looking for fear, fiction and fun not to mention a little ghastly ghoulish giggle or two -- make sure you grab a Gorey story -- you'll be glad you did!

A Twisted Tale ... - Of a Veiled Bear, a Christmas Cookie and a piffling poet.


Image Credit: Edward Gorey illustration -

The Gorey Story Bookshop

Amphigorey Again
Amphigorey Again

A great collection of Gorey's best bits.

Amphigorey: Fifteen Books
Amphigorey: Fifteen Books

Another helping of horror humor!

Amphigorey Too
Amphigorey Too

Witty works include: "The Beastly Baby", "The Lavendar Leotard", and "The Iron Tonic: or A Winter Afternoon"

Amphigorey Also
Amphigorey Also

Morbid mirth includes among others "The Glorious Nosebleed" and "The Utter Zoo".

Edward Gorey: The New Poster Book
Edward Gorey: The New Poster Book

The perfect gift for those who appreciate the morbid mirth and iconic illustrations of Edward Gorey!


Feel free to add your comments, particularly which is your favorite Gorey piece of work. C'mon don't be shy...

The Gorey Bits Guestbook

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Anyway, should you fuosced on turning young heads you happen to be defeated to it. An original version of Cinderella is actually on the web somewhere ... it is ugly.Id be concerned with grown ups studying this aside from young children.

    • ManipledMutineer profile image


      5 years ago

      How could I not love this lens with a title like this...?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love this "quippingqueen" look at Edward Gorey. Some of the images are not there, but I think there is a bug right now. ** Blessed **


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