The Edward Gorey House

This is one of those random, doesn’t-quite-fit-the-usual-PBB-blog-mold, posts.

Full disclosure, I have been on vacation. And I am so darn excited to get to say that— especially after this past year and however many months, that we have all endured and suffered through. I called our trip, “The Great Reinhardt Post Pandemic Reunion Tour” (tee shirts should have been sold). It consisted of my husband and I driving from the midwest to the far points of the East Coast and up and down it to hug our loved ones and see their smiles in real life once again.

Therefore, I haven’t been reading picture books. But I did get to go to a bucket list place that is loosely related and that is what I will share with you today.

You might (and I would be flattered if you did) remember a post several months back that I did called, Nonsense! The curious Story of Edward Gorey, written by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Chloe Bristol. This is the link if you care to revisit it here. In that post I admit to being a super fan of Edward Gorey and on our “reunion tour” we were able to visit the house he owned in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. (Here’s a link to their website https://edwardgoreyhouse.org/)

The house is quite normal looking from the outside.

But, inside, it is brimming with Edward’s quirky collections.

I learned from our wonderful tour guide, Gregory, that Edward was ahead of his time. His macabre artwork and tongue in cheek stories were certainly not deemed ‘child appropriate’ and he found himself searching to find a publisher who dared to push the envelope.

He had commercial and financial success as the “Mystery” illustrator for PBS, and the “Dracula” musical show. But it wasn’t until Lemony Snicket paid homage to Edward by writing the incredibly popular series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, that Edward’s books were finally embraced and celebrated.

Edward hand-lettered most of his books. Seeing his original artwork, I was impressed by the lack of white-out (there was a little, but really not much) and the precision of his layouts.

I drooled over his sketches and gesture drawings.

But, the thing that impressed me the most is that Edward Gorey was a true creative. From the oddity of his collections, to the fur coats, and heavy jewelry he wore.

His artwork, like his home, was an honest expression of who he was and how he saw the world. It was encouraging and inspirational to see that.

The Edward Gorey House is a house, a museum, a time capsule, and an affirmation that we should all strive to celebrate our own, special, quirky, and extraordinary, uniqueness.

Just like Edward did.

If you find yourself on the Cape I hope that you have the chance to visit The Edward Gorey House, or as he called it, The Elephant House.

Oh,

and be sure to notice the framed waffle on the wall…

because I doubt that you will ever see another one.

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.

38 Comments:

  1. I love it! That’s what I call thinking out of the box. It’s so great to see what your imagination can create. Magical! Thanks for sharing Jennifer. Love the stained glass.

  2. How fun! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thanks, Jennifer. I needed this post today.

    • Hi, Kathy. Visiting the Edward Gorey House gave me some much needed inspiration and was a reminder that living a creative life is not defined by projects. I’m happy that sharing my visit might have given you a little boost today. Thank you!

  4. Love the waffle! Though I kind of want to eat it.

    • Hi Stacy, I didn’t post the picture that was next to it where Edward did a little illustration and described that the waffle was the “Last waffle of the Millennium”. So, it might have been a tad stale? Thanks for visiting!

  5. This was a fun post… Good things happen when you break the mold! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. Jennifer, thanks for bringing us along on your adventures. Loved all of Edward’s quirky collections!

  7. My house looks so boring after seeing this one! ha! We’re going to the Cape in the fall. Will definitely check this out! thank you!

    • Oh I hope that you can visit. You needed to make a reservation when we were there. Not sure if that will still be the case in the Fall, or not. Safe travels and enjoy the Cape! Also, we stayed at an amazing Bed and Breakfast called the Mulberry Tree Inn. Just two rooms in a beautiful historic home. Owner made one of the best breakfasts that I’ve ever eaten!

  8. Claire W Bobrow

    Loved this virtual tour! I’m adding the Gorey House to my own bucket list now. After all, who doesn’t want to see a framed waffle?!

  9. Kim Pfennigwerth

    Wow – you really brought us all there and it is amazing! Thanks for sharing your trip!

  10. Love the framed waffle! Thanks for taking us along on your spectacular vacation!

  11. Jennifer, what a wonderful literary pilgrimage. Thank you for sharing it with us. I loved seeing all those sketches and the fascinating statues in the strangest of places–a Victrola in the fireplace? I’d missed the earlier post about him so must check out NONSENSE!

    • Hi Vijaya, thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. He definitely had an eye for the unexpected. His “grater” collection was interesting. He loved round rocks and they pop up nearly everywhere. I found it uplifting and validating that he surrounded himself with items that intrigued him. Not necessarily things of value or what someone else might deem “collectible”.

  12. Jennifer, Your article and photos were extremely enjoyable. Now I want to read NONSENSE, (the illustrations are gorgeous) and I also want to visit his house!

  13. Pamela Harrison

    What fun! I’d love to visit this home/museum. Looking at your photos brought a smile to my face. Edward Gorey certainly had a unique sense of humor. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • I know I posted a ton of pictures and took even more. I found myself laughing out loud as I walked through his home and read his words. Thank you, Pamela, for visiting and commenting on our blog today!

  14. Mercy! What a fun post…and that waffle!

  15. What an incredibly interesting story! The house is amazing. So much creativity. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Unbelievable, well worth the wait!! Now, I want to go and see for myself. thank you.

  17. Wow! I had no idea this even existed. Would love to visit one day!

  18. Karen Henry Clark

    I appreciate your glimpse into this talented artist. My mentor, the late Florence Parry Heidi, loved working with him. He illustrated her unusual children’s book, THE SHRINKING OF TREEHORN.

    • I own and love that book ❤️ What an amazing mentor that you had and she must have some terrific stories about working with Edward Gorey! How lucky! Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to share and comment.

  19. I’ll have to visit someday. He is one of my favorites. He created such a singular word—you always know his work.

  20. Angie Quantrell

    That is so cool! I have been on the Cape but not for years. Thanks for sharing!

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