In 1963, prolific mid-century illustrator and author Edward Gorey published an alphabet book so grimly antithetical to the very premise of the genre — making children feel comfortable and inspiring them to learn — that it took the macabre humor genre to a new level. “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” The Gashlycrumb Tinies begins...
A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clair who wasted away.
D is for Desmond thrown out of the sleigh.
E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
F is for Fanny, sucked dry by a leech.
G is for George, smothered under a rug.
H is for Hector, done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in the lake.
J is for James who took lye, by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks.
M is for Maud who was swept out to sea.
N is for Nevil who died of ennui.
O is for Olive, run through with an awl.
P is for Prue, trampled flat in a brawl.
Q is for Quinton who sank in a mire.
R is for Rhoda, consumed by a fire.
S is for Susan who perished of fits.
T is for Titas who blew into bits.
U is for Una who slipped down a drain.
V is for Victor, squashed under a train.
W is for Winie, embedded in ice.
X is for Xerxes, devoured by mice.
Y is for Yoric whose head was bashed in.
Z is for Zilla who drank too much gin.
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