Revisiting the spooky with Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey house

Edward Gorey’s house in Massachusetts. Image courtesy of John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons.

There’s something about Halloween that encourages me to read more mysteries and spooky books. Maybe it’s the coziness of it all. My living room protects me from fall’s chilly air while I sit on my couch with my feet propped up, with a cup of black tea or vanilla chai nearby. I have only to glance up from whatever I’m reading to see autumn trees blazing away in the backyard. If I’m reading at night, there’s often a warm fire sending out its reassuring heat so I can toast my toes while relaxing and reading in a recliner.

Perhaps it’s just the season that causes me to seek out these types of books. (I do this at Christmas, too, trying to find books that relate to Christmas in some way.) Whatever the reason, I like to search for new mysteries or revisit some of my favorite Halloween books such as Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies at this time of year. The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a children’s alphabet book containing the stories of 26 hapless kids who meet unfortunately “Gorey” ends. (Poor kids. Where were their PARENTS while all of this gory murder and mayhem was going on??!!! Bad parents! BAD! Call the cops!)

I am charmed by Edward Gorey’s art, too. His macabre black-and-white illustrations add an extra edge to The Gashlycrumb Tinies and I am of the opinion that it wouldn’t quite be the same if these illustrations were in full color.

Gorey was both a prolific author and artist. He did the opening animation for PBS’s “Mystery!” series and I never get tired of watching this bit of animation. I confess that the wailing woman on the roof at 0:32 exasperates me. I want to tell her, “Just sit up and untie your feet, lady! It’s not that hard!” But she has to have the motivation to let go of her blue scarf. It’s either that, or her agent protested to the Screen Actors Guild about scarf under-utilization.

If you haven’t read The Gashlycrumb Tinies yet or any other Edward Gorey books, check them out soon before Halloween ends! Or if you want a quicker fix, watch this video narrated by T. Barrowman. (Dare I say, “Alas, poor Yorick?” Ouch.) And wait for the Vincent Price-style laughter at the end.



Filed under Writing

7 responses to “Revisiting the spooky with Edward Gorey

  1. Interesting, in a spooky way…

  2. Such a delightfully devious mind! I love Gorey but confess to being a slow convert…my college roommate had a Gorey wall calendar that used to stare down at me while I slept. It took awhile to get over that one. :} Great post!

  3. nzumel

    Love the Gashlycrumb Tinies! Thanks for reminding me….

  4. For a behind-the-scenes look at this unique artist’s theatre work and his day-to-day life, check out “Edward Gorey On Stage” and “Croaked: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery” (


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