Edward Gorey (1925-2000)

Edward Gorey (1925-2000) • photo: Richard Corman né: Edward St. John Gorey
born: February 22, 1925 (Chicago, Illinois)
pseudonyms: (Ogdred Weary, Regera Dowdy, and many more anagrams of “Edward Gorey”)
died: April 15, 2000 (Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts)
studied art at: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (for one semester)
medium: pen & ink
"The Great Veiled Bear" (1979) from "The Doubtful Guest" (1957)  Edward Gorey at his home on Cape Cod

Historical Note:
Edward Gorey received little formal training as an artist during his lifetime, but the first exhibition of his drawings was held at the Mandrake Book Store in Cambridge (MA) while he was still a student at Harvard.

Gorey believed that his artistic talent came in part from his maternal great-grandmother, Helen St. John Garvey, who had been a greeting card designer. And, interestingly, one of his stepmothers was a cabaret performer who sang “La Marseillaise” while playing the guitar in the movie Casablanca (Corinna Mura, 1909–1965).

Elephant House, the artist’s home on Strawberry Lane in Yarmouth Port (MA), was made into a museum after his death. It is open seasonally, and sometimes hosts special exhibitions of his work. •


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Edmund Dulac (1882-1953)

Edmund Dulac (1915) né: Edmond Dulac
born: October 22, 1882 (Toulouse, France)
became a naturalized British citizen: February 17, 1912
died: May 25, 1953 (Dorset, England)
studied art at: École des Beaux-Arts, Académie Julian
medium: pen & ink, watercolor
The Nightingale (1911)) The Princess and the Pea (1911) Edmund Dulac (1937)
Historical Note:
By 1905, new advances in color separation made it possible for book publishers to print beautiful illustrations on coated paper. But these “plates” could not be bound with the rest of the volume; they had to be “tipped in” by hand (glued into position on reserved pages of the text). The extra labor and expense that this reproduction process entailed was well worth it, however, because the quality of the final product was unrivaled. Separately printed colors could now be registered with a high degree of precision, and the need for heavy outlines (to trap colors in the event of subtle mis-registration “spills”) was virtually eliminated.

The artwork of the “Golden Age” of children’s book illustration could be more detailed and delicate than ever before, and a wider range of bright, clean colors was attainable. The market for deluxe editions of illustrated gift books boomed … and so, too, did the demand for top-notch artists.

Edmund Dulac had the good fortune to enter the world of book publishing at just the right time. His artistic style, which was heavily influenced by Persian and Indian miniatures and Japanese prints, often made use of delicate lines. And the un-muddied, brilliant, colors that he frequently wove into his designs lent them a wonderful gem-like (or even iridescent) quality.

It is no wonder, then, that Dulac’s first significant commission—60 color illustrations to accompany J.M. Dent’s collected works of the Brontë sisters—was offered to him when he was just 22 years old. 


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Novels: Book Illustration & Illuminated Manuscripts

If you are interested in book illustration or illuminated manuscripts, one or more of these novels might be to your liking. Continue reading

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