|A self-portrait by Edward Gorey
A large and important collection of works by the idiosyncratic illustrator, designer and writer, Edward Gorey (1925-2000), has been donated to Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library
by Andrew Alpern. Numbering more than 700 items, the collection includes nearly every edition of every work published by Gorey, in addition to illustrations for dust jackets and magazines, original drawings, etchings, posters and design ephemera. By any measure, this is a major gathering of Gorey's work.
Born in Chicago, Edward Gorey attended Harvard after WW II, and then became an illustrator for Doubleday Anchor in New York City. At the same time, he began writing and illustrating his own distinctive works, in a style that evoked a fin-de-siecle atmosphere. Gorey is perhaps best known for the animated opening sequence to the long-running PBS television series, Mystery! In 1978, he won a Tony for best costume design for work he did for Dracula, starring Frank Langella. A very limited edition of photographs of the set design drawings were made, and one copy is part of the Alpern gift.
Andrew Alpern is a noted architectural historian and attorney who has been active in historic preservation for a long time. The author of nine books and scores of articles, Alpern recently donated to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
at Columbia his superb collection of drawing instruments from the early eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. The Columbia University Libraries
recently published a catalogue of that collection, The Andrew Alpern Collection of Drawing Instruments
. Alpern’s interest in Gorey goes back to the many occasions when he would see the illustrator at the Gotham Book Mart, a famous Manhattan bookstore. Andreas Brown, who owned the Book Mart, had taken an early interest in Gorey and helped promote Gorey's work at his store. In 1980, Alpern published a collection of ephemera by Gorey.