Spring 2019

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Born to Be Posthumous

By Mark Dery. Cover design by Jim Tierney. Book design by Marie Mundaca. William Collins, £18.99

Edward Gorey (1925-2000) spent most of his life trying to remain uncategorised and undefined. Despite being celebrated for his illustrations and book designs, Gorey thought of himself firstly as a writer, and considered many of his illustration commissions unworthy of attention. As a theatre designer he preferred the small scale of local theatre to the Broadway stage where his 1977 production of Dracula had been a great success. In his personal life he behaved like an introvert yet he dressed so flamboyantly that his apparel would raise eyebrows and jeers on the New York streets. He grudgingly described himself as ‘probably gay’ yet he never indulged himself during the heady years of gay liberation. As for the miniature books that made him famous, their combinations of drawings and text also defy easy categorisation, where the gleeful absurdities of Edward Lear shade to dark and melancholy adult dreams.


Cover of Born to Be Posthumous. Design: Jim Tierney. Photography: Richard Corman.
Top. An illustration from Gorey’s wordless picturebook The West Wing, 1963.

26. EYE_9815748

John Coulthart, artist, designer and writer, Manchester

Read the full version in Eye no. 98 vol. 25, 2019


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 98 looks like at Eye Before You Buy on Vimeo.