John Gruelle

Once Upon a Canvas: Exploring Fairy Tale Illustrations from 1870-1942

John Gruelle (1880-1938)
John, “Johnny,” Gruelle was born in Arcalo, Illinois in 1880 but raised in Indianapolis. A self-taught illustrator, in his late teens, Johnny became the cartoonist for the The Indianapolis Star, and then for the The Cleveland Press. He used his free time to write and illustrate children’s tales, which his editor published in the paper as well. In 1910, Gruelle won a contest under two different names for the New York Herald Sunday comic feature. A few years later he moved to Silvermine, Connecticut, where he began turning out a large quantity of material for Physical Culture, Judge, and he wrote and illustrated children’s stories for Good Housekeeping, and Woman’s World. While he drew, his wife, Myrtle, would read him fairytales which led him to illustrate a version of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1914). Some of his greatest accomplishments were stories in memory of his daughter Marcella, who died at the age of fourteen. He wrote and illustrated a series of little short tales of imaginary about-the-house adventures about her doll, Raggedy Ann, and her other dolls. These became Raggedy Ann Stories, published in 1914. Various sequels followed up until 1937, the year before his death.
-Margo Friedland