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.