May 17, Pack Rat Day. Edward Gorey was a packrat – of the macabre

Edward Gorey packrat hoarded very interesting and sinister things.

C is for Clara who wasted away?

The Gorey Skull

At least once, Gorey’s hoarding tendencies even got him in trouble with the law.

In the 1950s, he bought a mummy’s head at an antique shop.

Rather than displaying it right away, he decided to hang onto it for later use, leaving it in its brown paper wrapping on the top shelf of a closet.

Decades later, when his friends helped him move his belongings to the Cape, they left it there.

The superintendent soon discovered the head, and Gorey got a call from an NYPD detective. “He said, ‘Mr. Gorey we’ve discovered a head in your closet,’” Gorey later recalled.

“And I said, ‘Oh for God’s sake, can’t you tell a mummy’s head? It’s a thousand years old! Good grief, did you think it took place over the weekend?’”


The Mummy’s Hand, in real life and in art.

He collected everything.

He had so many books, the upper floors of his house sag like hammocks.

As a result, rolling chairs now travel spookily from room to room, all on their own.

Gorey was famous for his macabre creativity, seemingly boundless in its ability to imbue ordinary objects and situations (like tassels) with dread.

A menacing tassel, with its collected counterpart.


The Gashlycrumb Tinies, whose deaths amused us all.


Edward Gorey made hand-sewn dolls of his character Figbash


Puppets handmade by Edward Gorey


Doll on windowsill, head crushed by rectangular stone


A small section of Gorey’s frog collection.


Skeleton Weathervane


Creepy baby


G is for George smothered under a rug.


J is for James who took lye by mistake


The Doubtful Guest, filled with ivy, complete with scarf and canvas shoes.

Edward Gorey packrat collected more than just the macabre.

He was an “ordinary” packrat as well.

His collection of every single episode of his favorite television shows and receipts from a month’s worth of lunches definitely fit the bill.

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