POSTSCRIPT: A Letter from Edward Gorey

Each month, Anna Knoebel revisits letters from prominent writers and other artists to revive the dying art of letter writing. Anna is the editor and co-publisher of Abe’s Penny, a magazine of arts and literature delivered in the form of postcards.

This month’s featured letter comes from Edward Gorey to his longtime friend and collaborator Peter F. Neumeyer. Gorey penned the note just a few months after Gorey had been assigned to illustrate Neumeyer’s upcoming book, Donald and The…

The transcript:

2.ii.69

I’m all right (this is only sepia ink, not blood), but I’m so distracted from?/by? drawing that I just can’t cope with anything else for the present, however long that is.

O the horror of it all . . . . (I think this is a shade more poetic than ‘Oh, the . . . . etc.’)

The Penguin Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the great Dismal Works.

Excuse handwriting.

Yr friend, E.G.

The beginning of their beautiful friendship goes something like this: their publisher arranged a sailing trip so the two men could meet. Upon returning to shore, Gorey misstepped off the dingy and started to fall into the water. Neumeyer grabbed Gorey’s arm with such force, not only did he prevent the fall, he also dislocated the illustrator’s arm. They spent the afternoon together in the hospital, looking through Gorey’s illustrations and brainstorming ideas for the book.

In this letter, Gorey’s message boils down to little more than, “Everything’s fine,” but written with a luscious ink pen (in sepia, not blood) and with so much loving self-mockery, it’s easy to start piecing together the man’s character, described by Neumeyer as wise, charming, affectionate and full of profound personal integrity.

Pomegranate has published a book of Gorey and Neumeyer’s correspondence — letters and postcards mailed frequently for just over a year. The humor and respect conveyed through words was reason enough to collect them into a book, but Gorey’s illustrated envelopes make the collection all the more pleasant to read. Imagine finding an envelope like the one shown here in your mailbox. We should all make penpals of our illustrator friends.

(FYI, that illustrated envelope was how Gorey first introduced to Neumeyer to what he had in mind for the Why We Have Day and Night characters. See book cover.)

Images via The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, courtesy Pomegranate (pomegranate.com)

***
— Anna Knoebel has been writing letters since she was about eight years old, often to her grandfather, who would send them back edited. She worked in publicity at MGM Studios in Los Angeles and as the Managing Editor of zingmagazine before co-founding Abe’s Penny with her sister, Tess. She lives in New York with her husband and daughter.

About the Author

More Like This

10 Rejected Book Covers That Almost Made the Cut

Designers talk about the planning and thought that goes into the cover design process

Aug 30 - Jo Lou

These Middle-Grade Novels Are Some of the Most Formally Innovative Works of Our Time

Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is the true spiritual successor to Laurence Sterne's "Tristram Shandy"

Jul 24 - Elyse Martin

Which Looks Better, Hardcovers or Paperbacks?

Our readers weigh in on 20 pairs of book cover designs

Jul 9 - Ruth Minah Buchwald