So back in 1963, artist Edward Gorey published a book called The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which was a abecedarium book, or a book consisting of the alphabet, typically used for practice exercises. Gorey himself is primarily remembered for his Gothic style of illustration, with works including Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The War of the Worlds to his credits. Fortunately, before his death in 2000, Gorey left us with work that included The Gashlycrumb Tinies. If you want to find out more about Edward Gorey you can do so at Edward Gorey House which allows you to become a member and buy Edward Gorey licensed merchandise.
Although Gorey’s books were very popular with children, he did not have a great love for children (possibly why he showed them dying in these Gothic illustrations?). He also never married and there is little to no mention of any significant other in is life. It would appear then that there was no desire to ever have children either.
Edward Gorye’s books are usually found in the humor and cartoon sections of bookstores, but other books like The Object-Lesson have earned serious critical respect as works of surrealist art. Gorey classified his own work as literary nonsense, a genre made famous by other authors such as Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.
Gorey was a fan of many word games, in particular anagrams. So much so, he wrote many of his books under pseudonyms that were anagrams of his name such as Ogdred Weary. Another pseudonym used by Gorey was Eduard Blutig which is also a play on words: “Blutig” is German for “bloody,” which is a synonym for “gory.”
His knowledge of literature and films was expansive and he named Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Francis Bacon, George Balanchine, Balthus, Ronald Firbank, Lady Murasaki Shikibu, Robert Musil, Yasujiro Ozu, Anthony Trollope, and Johannes Vermeer as some of his favorite artists. Gorey was also a pop-culture junkie, following television shows from Petticoat Junction to Cheers.
From his illustration style in The Gashlycrumb Tinies you can guess that he also liked dark genre series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman: The Animated Series and he was even a fan of The X-Files. He enjoyed the Batman series and said that it was going to be an influence the illustrative style of one of his upcoming books.
Gorey has become an iconic figure in the Goth subculture, most notably some Edwardian costume balls held annually in San Francisco and Los Angeles, which include artisitc performances based on his Gothic works, such as his characters that are illustrated wearing fashion styles ranging from those of the mid-19th century to the 1930s.
Sadly, Edward Gorey passed away in April, 2000, but his macabre legacy continues today and will most likely delight children and adults for many decades to come. We hope you enjoyed this look at The Gashlycrumb Tinies and the man who created them. Be sure to visit the Edward Gorey House to learn more about this fascinating artist.
If you want to see other interesting ways to display the alphabet, you can check out the Star Wars Alphabet that is, admittedly, a bit more kid-friendly.