While most of the public is aware of Raggedy Ann and her brother, Raggedy Andy, most would not be able to name their creator—Johnny Gruelle. Few knew that the father of these famed rag dolls was a premier illustrator, artist, and toy maker of the early twentieth century. This work tells the life of Gruelle through text, photographs, and many delightful illustrations. This beautifully illustrated art book will be of great interest to Raggedy Ann collectors and enthusiasts everywhere. Hall’s research represents a majority of the creations of Johnny Gruelle, available for the first time in one place.
The book links the story of Gruelle and his famed rag dolls to twentieth-century American events. It explores the significance of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II on the growth of the toy industry. Plus, Hall relates how Gruelle’s work mirrored the development of American entertainment venues such as newspapers, magazines, and illustrated books. The book also investigates the many prevailing myths about Raggedy Ann, and portrays Johnny Gruelle as a man deeply attuned to the magic and whimsy found in his writings and illustrations.
Hall looks at the life of Gruelle to see how each artistic pursuit led to the actual creation of Raggedy Ann. Gruelle started as a newspaper cartoonist, which required a simple line to give the impression of an entire concept. Among the first characters that Gruelle created was “Mr. Twee Deedle.” He then moved to illustrating children’s books such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and finally to Raggedy Ann. Hall explores how Raggedy Ann and Andy—as playthings and as literary characters—evolved from Gruelle’s particular talents, instincts, outlooks, and chosen career path.
About the Author
Patricia Hall is a lifelong collector of Raggedy Ann and Andy. In 1990 and 1991 she was curator of the Indiana State Museum’s Johnny Gruelle and Raggedy Ann exhibit. When Hall first started collecting Gruelle books and then Raggedy Ann material, she discovered a void of documented information on Gruelle and his dolls.
Authorized by the Gruelle family, Hall’s work uses many previously unpublished family photographs and verbal accounts from Gruelle’s family and friends—some now in their eighties and nineties. Hall says, “The perspective of these individuals (among the very few still living who actually knew and remembered the author) was crucial to my understanding and portrayal of Johnny Gruelle the man.”