A large and important collection of works by the idiosyncratic illustrator, designer, and writer, Edward Gorey (1925-2000), has been donated to the Columbia University Libraries by Andrew Alpern. Numbering more than 700 items, the collection includes nearly every edition of every work published by Gorey, in addition to illustrations for dust jackets and magazines, original drawings, etchings, posters, and design ephemera. By any measure, this is a major gathering of Gorey's work.
Born in Chicago, Edward Gorey attended Harvard after WWII, and then became an illustrator for Doubleday Anchor in New York City. At the same time, he began writing and illustrating his own distinctive works, in a style that evoked a fin-de-siecle atmosphere. Gorey is perhaps best known for the animated opening sequence to the long-running PBS television series, Mystery! In 1978, he won a Tony for best costume design for work he did for Dracula, starring Frank Langella. A very limited edition of photographs of the set design drawings were made, and one copy is part of the Alpern gift.
Andrew Alpern is a noted architectural historian and attorney who has been active in historic preservation for a long time. The author of nine books and scores of articles, Alpern recently donated to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia his superb collection of drawing instruments from the early eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. The Columbia University Libraries has just published a catalogue of that collection, The Andrew Alpern Collection of Drawing Instruments (2010). Mr. Alpern’s interest in Gorey goes back to the many occasions he would see the illustrator at the Gotham Book Mart, whose owner, Andreas Brown, had taken an early interest in Gorey and helped promote his work through the Gotham. In 1980, Mr. Alpern published a collection of ephemera by Gorey.
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children‘s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please see: /content/libraryweb/indiv/rbml.html
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.