February 22 – Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey

Posted on February 22, 2014

The black-and-white illustrations by Edward Gorey are at times...well, gory! And weird. And creepy.

What can you say about a snail-fish on a sofa?

Or a skeleton man shielding a whole bunch of tiny kids with a bat-wing umbrella?

What about an alligator saying “Ho!” to two kids on a bicycle?

The weird world of Gorey was created in the 1900s but seems to be set in the 1800s. It was created by an American who only traveled overseas once, but it seems to be set in Britain. It's a place where, I think, Tim Burton (of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Edward Scissorhands” fame) would feel right at home.

Also, it's a place that is way too disturbing for some children, but that appeals to many of them. Edward Gorey himself didn't know much about kids, or particularly like them. He was a bit of a hermit, actually; he never had a family, and when he died, he left his money to a charitable trust that helps cats, dogs, bats, and insects!

Did you know...?

  • Some people call Gorey's art gothic. Most say that it is surrealist. He himself called it literary nonsense, like the works of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear
  • One time Edward Gorey was asked who his favorite artists were. He didn't talk much about other illustrators, as I expected he would. Instead, he talked about authors whose books I love, like Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, and he talked about choreographer George Balanchine

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the announcement of a cure for tuberculosis 

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