Raggedy Ann: The Books Behind the Doll

February 8th, 2011

“Fairyland must be filled with rag dolls, soft loppy rag dolls who go through all the beautiful adventures found there, nestling in the crook of a dimpled arm.”
—from “Raggedy Ann Stories,” by Johnny Gruelle, 1918

Step into the whimsical world of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, loved by generations of young and old alike for more than 90 years.

Raggedy Ann was born out of tragedy. John Barton Gruelle (1880-1938) conjured up the Raggedy Ann stories to entertain his ailing daughter, Marcella Delight Gruelle, who was fond of a rag doll she had found in her grandmother’s attic. When Marcella died in 1915 at the age of 13, Gruelle began writing the stories down.

In 1918, Johnny Gruelle sold his first volume of “Raggedy Ann Stories” to the P. F. Volland Company of Chicago. A Raggedy Ann rag doll came with each book. Her brother, Raggedy Andy, made his debut in “Raggedy Andy Stories” in 1920. Several more books in the Raggedy Ann series followed. Each unpaginated book measured 6” x 9 1/2”, came with a dust jacket, and had both color and black and white illustrations. The books had color pictorial endpapers, color pictorial paper-covered boards, and a black cloth spine.

I am delighted to have a collection of Raggedy Ann books passed down from my mother. The titles in the collection, along with their original publication year, are as follows: “Raggedy Andy Stories” (1920), “Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees” (1924), “Beloved Belindy” (1926), “Wooden Willie” (1927), “Raggedy Ann’s Fairy Stories” (1928), “Raggedy Ann’s Magical Wishes” (1928), “Marcella: A Raggedy Ann Story” (1929), and “Raggedy Ann in the Deep Deep Woods” (1930).

My mother has loving childhood memories of her mother reading the books to her, and eventually reading the books herself. I have fond memories of reading the books as a child at my family’s beach cottage. I would spend summer evenings carried off to an enchanted land where dolls come alive and have magical adventures when no human beings are around.

These timeless stories of Raggedy Ann, the rag doll with yarn hair and a candy heart, are delightful and the illustrations are simply beautiful. I treasure each book.

To read Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy stories, visit gutenberg.org.

2 comments so far

  1. Mary Meyer Says:

    Wonderful article Sarah!

  2. Linda Grindstaff Says:

    I’ve recently come into possession of a 1918 Raggedy Ann Stories, a 1920 Raggedy Andy Stories which I understand are in Public Domain. My question relates to the 1924 edition of RA and RA and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees. I cannot find any information that this one is in public domain or not. I had rubber stamps made out of a picture out of the Raggedy Andy Stories book and am refurbishing pictures out of all 3 of the books to use on greeting cards and such. Any info you have about the Camel with Wrinkled Knees 1924 edition and copyright info will be appreciated. I have noticed that on all the pictures from that one, Johnny Gruelle has his copyright info on each one, so maybe it is not in Public Domain as yet.

    I have not received my rubber stamps yet, but Lady who had them done for me from a picture I labored over to make clear in black and white said the image is perfect, so I look forward to seeing them.

    Sarah, your article is great and a keeper for sure. I was not fortunate enough to have read any of the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories when I was a child and am enjoying them now at age 63, and I find that I’m still a child at heart. I always KNEW all my dolls were real, so I can really get engrossed in the stories.


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