Edward Gorey at home in 1999.

Edward St. John Gorey (February 22, 1925 - April 15, 2000) was an American writer and illustrator. He wrote over one hundred books and also illustrated more than sixty works by other authors, including Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, and Edward Lear. The animated title sequence for the PBS Mystery! television series is based on his drawings. Gorey was also an award-winning theatrical designer.

Gorey's short, illustrated books are known both for the whimsically absurd storylines and for his distinctive artwork; crosshatched line drawings of stylized scenes set in the Edwardian era. Although often identified as macabre and gothic, his works in actuality range from the nonsensical to the poignant, amusing to the unsettling – often with a dose of surrealism and almost always with an offbeat sense of humor.


Edward Gorey was born in Chicago, Illinois. After briefly attending the Chicago Art Institute in 1943, he was drafted and served as a clerk in the army. After the war, he studied at Harvard and graduated with a degree in French literature.

Gorey moved to New York in 1953 and worked in the art department of Doubleday while working on his own books at night. His first book, The Unstrung Harp (1953), received critical acclaim, and his popularity was established with the publication of The Doubtful Guest (1957). In 1959, he cofounded Looking Glass Library, a division of Random House dealing with children's books.

Gorey was featured at the famous (but now sadly closed) Gotham Book Mart in New York City, with the gallery exhibiting his works and the store selling his books and collectibles. Between writing and illustrating numerous books, Gorey also worked in the theatre. He won the Tony Award in 1978 for costume design, and was also nominated for set design, for the Broadway production of Dracula.

Gorey moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1986 where he lived and worked till his death in 2000. After his death, his house became a museum. The Edward Gorey House celebrates his life and work and also honors his love of animals, raising awareness about animal welfare issues.


Although many of his books are still available individually, most of his works can be found in the four Amphigorey collecitons.

Amphigorey (1972, ISBN 978-0-39-950433-4)

  • The Unstrung Harp (1953)
  • The Listing Attic (1954)
  • The Doubtful Guest (1957)
  • The Object-Lesson (1958)
  • The Bug Book (1959)
  • The Fatal Lozenge (1960)
  • The Hapless Child (1961)
  • The Curious Sofa (1961)
  • The Willowdale Handcar (1962)
  • The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963)
  • The Insect God (1963)
  • The West Wing (1963)
  • The Wuggly Ump (1963)
  • The Sinking Spell (1964)
  • The Remembered Visit (1965)

Amphigorey Too (1975, ISBN 978-0-39-950420-4)

  • The Beastly Baby (1962)
  • The Nursery Frieze (1964)
  • The Pious Infant (1966)
  • The Evil Garden (1966)
  • The Inanimate Tragedy (1966)
  • The Gilded Bat (1966)
  • The Iron Tonic (1969)
  • The Osbick Bird (1970)
  • The Chinese Obelisks (1970)
  • The Deranged Cousins (1970)
  • The Eleventh Episode (1970)
  • [The Untitled Book] (1970)
  • The Lavender Leotard (1973)
  • The Disrespectful Summons (1973)
  • The Abandoned Sock (1973)
  • The Lost Lions (1973)
  • Story for Sara (1971)
  • The Salt Herring (1971)
  • Leaves from a Mislaid Album (1972)
  • A Limerick (1973)

Amphigorey Also (1983, ISBN 978-0-15-605672-4)

  • The Utter Zoo (1967)
  • The Blue Aspic (1968)
  • The Epiplectic Bicycle (1969)
  • The Sopping Thursday (1970)
  • The Grand Passion (1976)
  • Les Passementeries Horribles (1976)
  • The Eclectic Abecedarium (1983)
  • L'Heure bleue (1975)
  • The Broken Spoke (1976)
  • The Awdrey-Gore Legacy (1972)
  • The Glorious Nosebleed (1975)
  • The Loathsome Couple (1977)
  • The Green Beads (1978)
  • Les Urnes Utiles (1980)
  • The Stupid Joke (1980)
  • The Prune People (1983)
  • The Tuning Fork (1983)

Amphigorey Again (2006, ISBN 978-0-15-603021-2)

Published posthumously, the fourth collection includes unfinished works and small odds and ends in addition to the following titles.
  • Category (1974)
  • The Other Statue (1968)
  • The Deadly Blotter (1997)
  • The Retrieved Locket (1994)
  • The Water Flowers (1982)
  • The Haunted Tea-Cosy (1997)
  • The Headless Bust (1999)
  • The Just Dessert (1997)
  • Neglected Murderesses (1980)
  • Tragedies Topiares (1989)
  • The Raging Tide (1987)
  • The Unknown Vegetable (1995)
  • Figbash Acrobate (1994)


If you like any of the following, you may enjoy Edward Gorey's works (and vice versa): Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Victorian/Edwardian literature and illustrations in general, Charles Addams cartoons.

If you are new to Gorey, you may want to try the following stories first: The Doubtful Guest (a fan favorite, nothing macabre and appropriate for all ages), The Gashlycrumb Tinies (signature work, alphabet book of hapless children beginning with “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs”).

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