Edward Gorey House

gorey_sign.jpgNothing is more entertaining than a visit to the home of a favorite author, especially when the house in question once belonged to the unrepentant bibliomaniac and pack rat Edward Gorey, who died nine years ago at 75, and left behind a veritable treasure trove of odds and ends. His rambling, 13-room cottage on 8 Strawberry Lane in Yarmouthport, Mass.--just off the Old King’s Highway (also known as Route 6A) on Cape Cod--is now a museum, chock full of “stuff” such as antique cheese graters, bottles, sketches, the trademark beaver skin coat, various cloth creatures--including one of the original Figbash-- made and stitched by hand, toys, and of course a few of the 35,000 books Gorey had acquired during his lifetime, and which helped inform his extraordinary body of work.

ombledroom.jpgThere are imaginary bats and cats, of course (including one real feline in residence, aptly named Ombledroom, pictured here), some bugs and slugs--the full Gorey oeuvre is in evidence, and altogether makes for a delightful way to spend an hour, either solo or with kids, it doesn’t matter, since everyone is welcome, and like the man’s great body of work itself, there is something for everyone. A nice touch is the scavenger hunt each visitor is invited to participate in; there are twenty-six objects from “The Ghastlycrumb Tinies” hidden in plain view in each room on the tour, there to be discovered by one and all. During my most recent trip there last week, I learned that Gorey’s enormous library of books--they had been kept in an adjoining barn--had recently been shipped off to the West Coast, where they will take up residence at San Diego State University, quite a nice turn of events, since the library there is already home to the archives of the writer Peter Newmeyer, who collaborated with Gorey on a number of wonderful books.

gorey_door.jpgRick Jones, a Gorey friend who is now director and curator of the Edward Gorey House, told me that an interesting detail regarding the books is that their former owner wrote in every one when he read it, how long it took, and whether he read it again. With regard to the curiosities, Jones had this wonderful observation: “One cheese grater is a cheese grater; for Edward, a group of them became a work of art.”

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