Raggedy Ann Author and Illustrator Honored in Norwalk Library Exhibit

The display in the lobby of the Norwalk Public Library is on loan from Darien's Rodriguez family, and will be on view for all to see through December.

Contributed photo
Contributed photo
The Norwalk Public Library celebrates this holiday season with a memorable and colorful display honoring a past Norwalk resident, the author/illustrator Johnny Gruelle.

Many of us remember Gruelle because of the joy and comfort that he gave and continues to give many children with his books and dolls.

The exhibit includes original art, books, ephemera and a photograph of Caroline Kennedy with her own Raggedy Ann doll.

Johnny Gruelle is best known for creating the world famous rag doll characters, Raggedy Ann and Andy. John Barton Gruelle was born in Arcola, Illinois in 1880, and later lived in the Silvermine area of Norwalk.

His distinctive cartoons, illustrations, and illustrated stories appeared regularly in well-known publications including John Martin's Book, Physical Culture, Illustrated Sunday Magazine, McCall's, The Ladies' World, and Judge.

It was his illustration work that led him to create a distinctive, whimsical design for a doll named "Raggedy Ann," which he patented and trademarked in 1915.

While living in Norwalk, in 1918 Gruelle's Raggedy Ann Stories was published. He also introduced a matching character doll, and the rest is history. More Raggedy books and dolls followed, and Gruelle eventually became known as "The Raggedy Ann Man."

By the time of his death in 1938, Gruelle's Raggedy characters, dolls, and books were known throughout the world. Even young Caroline Kennedy, President John Kennedy’s daughter, like many children worldwide, enjoyed her Raggedy Ann doll.The display is in the lobby of the Norwalk Public Library, and will be on view for all to see through the end of December.

The items in the exhibit are from the private collection of Kathleen and Gil Rodriguez of Darien.


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