Looking Glass Library
In 1959, Gorey left Anchor/Doubleday to join Jason Epstein and Clelia Carroll to found the Looking Glass Library. Edmund Wilson, Phyllis McGinley, and W.H. Auden served as consulting editors. Gorey served as art director and supervised the publication of 28 volumes of classic children’s books between 1959 and 1961. The dust jacket flap states the purpose of the series. “Looking Glass Library includes a wide range of books for children of all ages…Many of these books have long been out of print, hard to find, or unavailable at prices most children can afford. Whether old or new, each book is among the best of its kind, written with the skill and imaginative truth that give children an appreciation of good literature, and enlarge their sympathies and understanding of the world in which they live.”
Why did you leave Anchor/Doubleday?
Jason Epstein had started something called Looking Glass Library with Celia Carroll, and I joined them. The idea was that it was going to do for children’s books what Anchor had done for the parents. The books were not paperbacks, but rather paper over boards. And it was really quite a good series. Well, the paper was perfectly dreadful, but then the paper for everything in those days was perfectly terrible. Heller, Steven, The National Post (Toronto), January 6, 1999. AP, p. 236
What did you do at Looking Glass Library?
“I illustrated a few books (the less said about those, the better), and I was the art director. I also was an editor, in a sense, because I helped pick some of the books. We did at least three of the Andrew Lang colored Fairy Books. We did a few anthologies, including a wonderful anthology of poetry for children by Janet Adams Smith, which started out at Faber in London. Somebody edited something called The Comic Looking Glass. I remember I illustrated H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Richard Hughes did a wonderful book of children’s stories called The Spider’s Palace. We did Charlotte M. Young’s Countess Kate. It was really a neat batch of sometimes quite forgotten 19th-century stories. We tended to pick up stuff from England. It was really a good idea, but then Jason lost interest, and after two years the whole thing folded up.” Heller, Steven, The National Post (Toronto), January 6, 1999. AP, p. 236.
In addition to being art director, Gorey illustrated and/or did covers for five titles in the series: Men and Gods , The Haunted Looking Glass, The Looking Glass Book of Stories, The Comic Looking Glass, and his most famous LGL book, War of the Worlds. His lifelong Parker School friend and fellow Doubleday colleague Connie Joerns illustrated The Looking Glass Book of Verse.
So after Looking Glass fizzled, what did you do?
“I’d done some work for Vintage [paperback books] off and on. And for a year  I was the art director at Bobbs Merrill, which we all referred to as Boobs Muddle. Eventually there was internecine warfare, and I was unfortunately on the side of the President, who got fired with all his entourage. Which was just as well. After that I just had too much freelance work to look for another job, and I moved up to the Cape.”Heller, Steven, The National Post (Toronto), January 6, 1999. AP, p. 237.
Bobbs Merrill published The Willowdale Handcar, or, The Return of the Black Doll in 1962. Gorey also did a number of jackets and covers for a series of Shakespeare plays that Bobbs-Merrill published between 1967 and 1974.