Vita: Edward Gorey
Brief life of an artful author: 1925-2000
Although he died almost seven years ago, Edward Gorey ’50 has just brought out a new book. Amphigorey Again, the fourth anthology of Gorey’s weird and wondrous tales, presents works previously unpublished and uncollected, including the saga of an admonitory hippopotamus and a meditation on the letter Z. Bad things happen to placid people.
To those with an absurdist sense of humor and fondness for the fine line, Gorey is the beloved author and illustrator of such neo-Edwardian tales as The Doubtful Guest, The Curious Sofa, and The Loathsome Couple. To television viewers, he’s the creator of the animation that opens Mystery on PBS. To theatergoers, he’s the Tony Award-winning costumer of Dracula. And to his Harvard classmates—before fame, success, and cult notoriety—Gorey was a campus dandy with a high-speed brain and large-size appetite for art, literature, and music. Born and raised in Chicago, he came to Cambridge, in that first post-World War II year, after a stint as a clerk at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground, where the army tested poison gas.
If the military left any impact on young Gorey, it didn’t show. He arrived sporting a full-length sheepskin-lined coat, sneakers, and thick rings on his long fingers. His hair was combed forward, Roman style. A typical freshman he was not.