How great children’s books are born

A collection reproduces the colorful correspondence between illustrator Edward Gorey and author Peter F. Neumeyer

Topics: Imprint, Design,

How great children's books are born (Credit: ©The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, courtesy Pomegranate)
This article originally appeared on Imprint.

ImprintWe all have that one person we’d love to work with ― that dream creative collaborator.

Well, imagine you’ve just been assigned to work with the Edward Gorey. Holy cannoli ― that would be insane! And not only is it the most creatively fulfilling collaboration, you become the best of pen pals. You share crazy-long handwritten letters (yes, handwritten) discussing everything from favorite books to pancake recipes, with Gorey personally illustrating all the envelopes just for you.

That’s exactly what happened to renowned writer Peter F. Neumeyer in the summer of 1968. Pomegranate Press’ new publication, “Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer,” reproduces the never-before-seen, typewriter-transcribed personal correspondence and illustrated envelopes between Gorey and Neumeyer as they collaborated on several children’s books, between 1968 and 1969.

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

Over 75 letters and 60 postcards offer a firsthand peek into their creative process and budding friendship and shed light on the man behind those humorously creepy, amazingly detailed crosshatch drawings. Having personally spent hours as a little girl getting lost in Gorey’s morbidly funny illustrations from the Gashlycrumb Tinies poster to books like “The Doubtful Guest,” I found it fascinating to read Gorey’s thoughts on his own work.

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



With charm, wit and a healthy dose of self-deprecation, Gorey shares middle-of-the-night illustration and story ideas, constantly questions his own existence (hence his macabre drawings), and ― all too relatable to creatives ― expresses anxiety and frustation over his creative work.

Although the men’s intellectual banter is not for everyone (both were avid readers and reference obscure books and quotes, sometimes losing the reader in their philosophical musings), Gorey’s awesome illustrations are more than worth it. Here’s a sneak peek:

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

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

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

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

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

Floating Worlds” is available through Pomegranate Press.

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.

Salon is proud to feature content from Imprint, the fastest-growing design community on the web. Brought to you by Print magazine, America’s oldest and most trusted design voice, Imprint features some of the biggest names in the industry covering visual culture from every angle. Imprint advances and expands the design conversation, providing fresh daily content to the community (and now to salon.com!), sparking conversation, competition, criticism, and passion among its members.

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