The Hapless Child by Edward Gorey / ISBN 9780764944680 / 64 pages with 30 black-and-white illustrations, 7 x 7.25 inches, published by Pomegranate
This sorry tale of petite Charlotte Sophia's catastrophic, short life is classic Gorey. The poor child is orphaned and treated mercilessly by schoolmates and ruffians alike, and only barely survives--for a time, anyway--by the skin of her baby teeth. Even her doll suffers a gruesome end.
The little girl's journey is perfect fodder for Edward Gorey's brilliant penwork, so detailed and perfectly wrought that it's hard to believe he could master these images at such a small size (the illustrations reproduced in the book are the same size as his original drawings). The Hapless Child is widely regarded as one of Gorey's best books; happily it is now back in print after an absence of many years, so that we can all enjoy weeping for Charlotte Sophia again...and again, and again.
Artist and author Edward Gorey (American, 1925–2000) is beloved for the boundless imagination and sharp humor exhibited in his more than 100 published works. Gorey was also a set and costume designer for innumerable theater productions, including a staging of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he won a Tony. He had a profound affection for literature, film, ballet, and animals. Cats and other odd creatures appear in many of his crosshatched illustrations. His humorously unsettling drawings of vaguely Victorian innocents facing unfortunate ends became familiar to a wide audience after appearing in the opening credits of the PBS television series Mystery! Gorey’s Cape Cod home, a veritable cabinet of curiosities, is now a museum celebrating his life and work.