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Edward Gorey: The original Tim Burton (+video)

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(Read caption) Artist Edward Gorey's 88th birthday is celebrated today on Google's home page.

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Edward Gorey was an American writer and illustrator known for his unique style, love of cats, and the playful, Victorian-style characters in his work. He was born on February 22, 1925 and would have celebrated his 88th birthday on Friday. Google is celebrating the artist with a collection of Gorey drawings gracing the search engines homepage today.

Gorey lived in Chicago as a child and he claims to be mostly a self-taught artist, he spent only one semester at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1943. He later attended Harvard University from 1946 to 1950, where he joined ranks with other Harvard alumni and founded the Poets' Theatre in Cambridge, Mass.

He lived most of his later years in his home on Cape Cod.

Gorey has said that he got his talent from his maternal great-grandmother, Helen St. John Garvey, who was a popular 19th century greeting card writer and artist.

Gorey wrote more than 100 books and illustrated reprints of books such as “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, “The War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells, and a collection of whimsical poems titled “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot. 

He classifies his own gothic pen and ink style as “literary nonsense.” 

Gorey’s “wicked and whimsical” animations were used to introduce the PBS’ series “Mystery!," since the series began in 1980.

Daniel Handler, known as Lemony Snicket, told the New York Times in 2011:

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“When I was first writing ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events,’ I was wandering around everywhere saying, ‘I am a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey,’ and everyone said, ‘Who’s that?’ Now, everyone says, ‘That’s right, you are a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey.’ ”

Mr. Handler and director Tim Burton, known for the film "Edward Scissorhands," are just two artists who owe some gratitude to Gorey for setting the stage for the Goth genre. 

But Gorey wouldn't want readers to dig into his books or his style too deeply. The New York Times article quotes Gorey’s favorite saying: “When people are finding meaning in things — beware.”

An Edward Gorey animated sequence for the PBS' series "Mystery!".

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