In the spirit of Halloween, a fun and spooky object in our library collection is a copy of The Gorey Alphabet  by Edward Gorey.  Edward Gorey (1925-2000), American writer and artist, child prodigy and high achiever has nestled his way into the hearts of those fond of dark themes, Victorian and Edwardian settings, and pen-and-ink drawings.

The Cooper Hewitt Library has collected several of his works. This one was published in the US in 1960, as The Fatal Lozenge: an Alphabet.  Gorey produced several books in his alphabet series, each with clever verse.  This alphabet book written for adults is filled with lyrical four-line poems with Gorey-esque dark illustrations. Each page is a miniature story with ominous and macabre twists. Beautifully rendered, these images continue to delight the reader and fan of illustrations.

Image features Letter A for Apparition. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.



Image features D for Drudge. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.





Image features N for Nun Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.


The museum’s collection also has several Edward Gorey works, including one that speaks of his fascination with ballet and movement. Gorey’s Poster: New York City Ballet, features a play on black and white to highlight the beauty of the ballerina’s feet.

Please enjoy one of our spooky works during this Halloween season!


Nilda Lopez is the Library Technician at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library.

3 thoughts on “The Gorey Alphabet

I have just purchased The Gorey Alphabet book and later found inside a preface states ” For Ruth Ellis”
the wrongful hanging of Ruth Ellis has always angered me therefore if this is the same Ruth Ellis I would find this a strange coincidence & a purchase meant to be .

The correct dedication is The Gorey Alphabet is ” for Ruth Ells”, not Ruth Ellis.
Ells was a friend of Gorey’s in his early days – ca. 1954 – in New York

Hi – Would you please share how the Ruth Ells identification info is known as in source material?

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