'The Edward Gorey House
Southern Magnolia Tree
'As told to us by Docent and local friend of
Edward's, Sally White
'A tree rarely seen in this part of the country, this southern magnolia was brought back from Mount Vernon in a small pot by the sisters who resided in the house, Louise and Olive Simpkins, during one of their "motoring" trips from 1928 (or perhaps 1929.) Olive, who was tall, slender and shy, always did the driving on the sister's [sic] journeys: Louise, who was short,
heavyset and the life of the party did not drive.
'The tree has managed to flourish in harsh New England weather, most likely because it is partially shielded from the elements in this nook of what is now the Edward Gorey House, receiving shelter from the winds and an abundance of sunshine.
'Louise and Olive had another sister, Ethel, who built a replica of this house nearby. After her sisters passed away, Ethel would sell the magnificent flowers that the tree produces at the Yarmouth Port library for $1.00. When a local woman complained of the price of a flower, Ethel firmly reminded her the proceeds were for the benefit of the library.
'When Ethel died, September 15th 1978, she requested that her funeral not include any store-bought flowers, either real or artificial, but instead be decorated "with whatever was growing in the yard at the time." This tree produced a single bloom the day Ethel was buried (a rare occurrence so late in the season) and her friends had to climb out the third storey window to retrieve it for her service, where it was arranged with ivy from the yard.'
'Both the interior and the exterior of 8 Strawberry
Lane was [sic] decorated by Edward Gorey with rocks
of all shapes and sizes, most of them in no
particular order or arrangement of any
meaning to anyone except for Edward himself.
'In his lifetime, this particular part of the yard was
very much overgrown, intentionally so by
Edward who had a penchant for allowing
everything he shared his home with to go about its
business. He included his lawn in that philosophy
of simply letting things be.
'This rock formation was not therefore as visible as
visible today as it is with its manicured lawn. When asked
what he was doing during the installation of these rocks
in their serpentine pattern, Edward responded
that he was building a serpent for others
to discover just as you have.'
'Do not ask "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.'
Which reminds me that Gorey illustrated an edition of T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
it has shown no intention of going away.'
The Doubtful Guest was published in 1957. Gorey's principal literary influences are perhaps Ronald Firbank, Evelyn Waugh, Ivy Compton-Burnett and Agatha Christie, although The Doubtful Guest's mutation, Figbash, has been compared with Max Erst's Loplop, and Gorey himself owned to Chinese, Japanese and Symbolist art influences.
I couldn't resist buying this short book by 'Ogred Weary', which of course is one of several pseudonyms he used, along with Dogear Wryde, Ms. Regera Dowdy, etc. It probably doesn't need to be said that this book can in no way be described as 'pornographic': everything is suggested, and all is in the mind of the reader.