Monday, November 25, 2013

Visit with the Ghouls and Goblins at the Edward Gorey House

When I was a child one of my friends owned the ABC book The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing.  It was written by Edward Gorey and published in 1963.  It is a satire of children’s books, told with a morbid sense of humor that might remind you of “The Addams Family” or more modern humor.  In the 1960s and 1970s it was considered quite inappropriate for children.  But we loved it as kids, and pored over the pages, and scoured the library for more books by Edward Gorey.  His books were very popular with children, although they were not specifically written for children. 

Millions of people are familiar with Edward Gorey’s cartoons and humor through the opening animated sequences at the beginning of the PBS series “Mystery”.  They have never seen one of his books, which are extremely collectible, and mostly out of print now.  He also illustrated books for other authors.  Many of his smaller stories and cartoons have been republished in a series of books called Amphigory, 1972; Amphigory Too, 1975, Amphigory Also, 1983, and so on. 

Wikipedia’s sketch of Edward Gorey includes a list of the many pseudonyms Edward Gorey used for his books.  Most of them were anagrams, and some were just silly puzzles, like Ogred Weary, Mrs. Regera Dowdy and E. G. Deadworry.  See this link for the complete list:

If you are on Cape Cod you can visit his house, which has been turned into a museum to his artwork.  It is located at 8 Strawberry Lane in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts and looks like a quaint and traditional New England home, but is full of weird and wonderful examples of Edward Gorey’s humor.   Proceeds from ticket and gift sales go towards several New England animal welfare organizations and to the Tufts Veterinary School.  It is not commonly known that Edward Gorey was an advocate for animal welfare.   

Edward Gorey's kitchen has been converted into a "gory" art gallery

Edward Gorey was born in Chicago on 22 February 1925 and Died 15 April 2000 in Hyannis, Massachusetts on Cape Cod.  He graduated from Harvard University in 1950, and studied art for one scant semester at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.  Gorey’s influence is part of the Goth subculture, and reprints of his books, dolls and posters of his art can be seen in giftshops around the world.  His legacy lives on through his artwork.

For the truly curious:

The Gorey Fan blog “Goreyana”

The website for the Edward Gorey House, Yarmouthport, Massachusetts

The famous genealogist and archivist William Addams Reitwiesner worked out Edward Gorey’s ancestry at his website, click here   He has many New England ancestors including HEWITT, GAY, HODGKINS, ANGELL, and WILKINSON (from Rhode Island).

You can also see another version of Edward Gorey’s family tree at, along with a long biography.  Click here for the link

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Copyright ©2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Tal como quedamos días atrás, hoy he publicado "De Nueva Inglaterra (USA) a Sinovas (Burgos-España) tras el apellido ROJO" sobre vuestro trabajo "Researching the Family Tree in Spain". Gracias por todo, espero que os guste y hasta pronto. Saludos.

  2. Gorey was a childhood library discovery of mine as well, although mine was "The Epiplectic Bicycle." I've been a fan ever since. Happily, I was able to use an illustration from that book in one of my blog posts when writing about a family legend concerning twins struck by lightning.