Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer
"A wondrous trove of letters and sketches between Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer connect the
Floating Worlds of these inspired collaborators; enchanting and witty and sparkling with intellectual banter, the book illustrates their artistic process and stands as a moving memoir of friendship
"No Gorey fan will be able to resist this collection, but it's difficult to imagine anyone would be immune to its verbal charms
."—Wall Street Journal
"As much a powerful personal memoir of an unusual friendship as it is a priceless cultural treasure containing the spirit and legacy of one of the twentieth-century's most unique, influential and prolific creators
"If you are a Gorey fan, the book is a must.
"—So Many Books
“You know far more about me than anyone else in the world."
—Edward Gorey to Peter Neumeyer, 1968
Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate Donald and the . . .
, a children’s story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Gorey’s shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Gorey’s drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969.
Those letters, published here for the first time, are remarkable for their quantity and their content. While the creative collaborations of Gorey and Neumeyer centered on children’s books, they held wide-ranging interests; both were erudite, voracious readers, and they sent each other many volumes. Through their discussions of these books, one marvels at the beauty of thoughtful (and merry) discourse driven by intellectual curiosity.
The letters also paint an intimate portrait of Edward Gorey, a man often mischaracterized as macabre or even ghoulish. His gentleness, humility, and brilliance—interwoven with his distinctive humor—shine in each letter; his deft artistic hand is evident on the decorated envelopes addressed to Neumeyer, thirty-eight of which are reproduced here.
During the time of their correspondence, Peter Neumeyer was an assistant professor at Harvard University and then a professor at Stony Brook University in New York. His acumen and compassion, expressed in his discerning, often provocative missives, reveal him to be an ideal creative and intellectual ally for Gorey.
More than anything else, Floating Worlds
is the moving memoir of an extraordinary friendship. Gorey wrote that he felt that they were “part of the same family, and I don’t mean just metaphorically. I guess that even more than I think of you as a friend, I think of you as my brother.” Neumeyer stated, “Your letters . . . your existence has made something of this world that [it] hadn’t the possibility of before.”About the ARTIST
Edward St. John Gorey was a Harvard grad, a brilliant artist, a celebrated set and costume designer (his costumes for a Broadway production of Dracula
earned him a Tony Award), a lover of animals (particularly cats) and the arts (he seldom missed a performance of the New York City Ballet), and an avid deltiologist—an obscure word so Gorey—like you might think he invented it himself (it means “a collector of postcards”). His humorously unsettling drawings of vaguely Victorian innocents often facing unfortunate ends became familiar to a wide audience after appearing in the opening credits of the PBS television series Mystery
!About the AUTHOR
Peter F. Neumeyer (b. 1929) is the author, editor, or translator of more than a dozen books of prose and poetry for children and adults. His collaborations with Edward Gorey include Donald and the . . .
, Donald Has a Difficulty
(see The Donald Boxed Set
), and Why We Have Day and Night
. The personal correspondence between Neumeyer and Gorey is collected in Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer
. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.