Many of you will be starting to feel christmassy, so I thought I’d share with you a Christmas-themed illustration by Edward Gorey. It cracked me up when I first saw it, and has on occasions since.

In ‘A Heart-Warming Christmas’, created for the December 1971 edition of National Lampoon magazine, an impoverished family are visited by ‘Sir Giles Crockby, the Pilchard King’, a wealthy benefactor bearing a collection of extravagant and utterly useless Christmas gifts.

Gorey numbered the objects in the drawing and described them in the caption – I have typed out the descriptions below the image for your convenience.

1-drunken father 2-empty gin bottle 3-rabid rat 4-beaten mother 5-unpalatable object 6-remains of her wedding dress 7-frozen robin 8-motto worked in human hair 9-dying child 10-caseless pillow 11-World Without End quilt 12-Christmas tree 13-string, bones, and ticket stubs from the gutter 14-Sir Giles Crockby, the Pilchard King 15-Russian sable pelisse 16-bespoke spats 17-his Tibetan chauffeur 18-basket of glazed tropical fruits 19-the works of Goethe bound in blue Levant morocco 20-terrine of pâté de foie gras with truffles 21-antique automaton that sings ‘Dal dolor cotanto oppresso’ from La Clemenza di Scipione 22-box of absinthe-filled chocolates

Edward Gorey, from his Wikipedia description, was famous for his ‘vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings.’

He was the author of such gothic picture books as The Doubtful GuestThe Curious Sofa, and The Loathsome Couple.

From Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey

Gorey populates his worlds with thin children in nightclothes, pale, boney women, and tall, solemn men in long coats. His stories are unsettling because of the way he merely suggests the horror in them, barely ever showing it. Despite his name, there are few gory details. Gore is replaced by foreboding and tension. We imagine the moment of awfulness; we become complicit in it.

Gorey spent his life alone, never marrying. Instead, like any good eccentric artist, he spent his life surrounded by cats. Here is Gorey with his cats: 

Read a longer and better researched article about Gorey here.