“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Marcella - A Raggedy Ann Story

This is a charming book titled Marcella - A Raggedy Ann Story by Johnny Gruelle. It was published by the P.F. Volland Company in 1929. This book is a First Edition hardcover. Illustrated by Johnny Gruelle. The book is in very good condition despite its age. The Volland Co. is the original publisher of this book, later books were printed by the Donohue Company.

Eleven stories are included: "The Train Ride," "The Picnic," "Moving Day," "Squeakie," "Hairy Puppydog," Shipwrecked," "Fishing," "Through The Door," "Little Rags, " "The Lovely New Doll," and "The Cheepy Birds".

 Someone felt the book needed an index and wrote the story titles in ink.

This is a first edition book and printed by the original publisher P.F. Volland. Later printings were done by the Donohue Company.

Johnny Gruelle was born December 24, 1880 in Arcola, Illinois. He won a cartooning contest sponsored by the New York Herald in 1911.  His cartoon Mr. Twee Deedle  ran in print from 1911 to 1914. He moved on from cartoons to children's books and is the known creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. He often created his final works in ink without first preparing a sketch in pencil! He lived most of his life in Connecticut where the Raggedy Ann dolls were mass produced.  He died in 1938. Raggedy Ann dolls are still in production today.

Johnny had a daughter named Marcella.  While visiting her Grandma she found a faceless rag doll in the attic, Johnny drew a simple face on the doll and called her Raggedy Ann.  Marcella played with the doll so much that  Gruelle thought other children would also enjoy the doll.  So confident was he, that he took out a patent on the doll in 1915.  The PF Volland Company published his first Raggedy Ann book in 1918. He went on to produce a series of books and dolls.

This book was created several years after a tragic event occurred that would forever change Johnny's life. After a smallpox vaccination at her school, his daughter Marcella became ill and to keep her entertained he made up stories about the rag doll to lift her spirits. Sadly she died at the age of 13 in 1915. Friends said that the only reminder of Marcella that he could bear to have around was her Raggedy Ann doll.

Perhaps to mend his broken heart, Johnny began immersing himself in his work and started putting in written form the many stories he had told Marcella. Thus began the process of bringing Raggedy Ann to life in the marketplace. Years after her death, Gruelle wrote this book to honor his beloved daughter.

Before I found this book, I had never seen any original Raggedy Ann material. When I saw the book, I knew that it was special. Gruelle's romantic, dreamlike artistic style drew me in to his fantasy world that includes fairies, dolls, dwarfs and mortals. His ability to communicate with children is obvious and it is no wonder that his stories and art have fascinated millions for over 85 years.

For more information on Marcella, visit my shop CraveCute at Etsy.
Update: Marcella has been sold and was carefully packed and sent to her new home.


  1. Its a truly beautiful book Diane - what a wonderful find! The story behind it is so sad and touching too - I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a beloved child at such a young age. Some characters have enduring appeal and Raggedy Ann is definitely one of them.

    I had a look at your Pinterest page - of the three illustrations you chose from my Proud Rose post I nearly didn't include the one with my name scrawled on it! It just goes to show I shouldn't make decisions about what I think someone else will/won't like!

    1. I loved the page that you wrote your name on, so sweet!

  2. Thanks for sharing ... what a charming book.

    Happiness always.

  3. What a lovely post. And what a sad and touching story behind all this. The love for his daughter inspired Johnny Gruelle to write these stories, and in turn, the memory of his daughter lives on.

  4. so gorgeous. such a sad story that brought such a beautiful book to life.

  5. Diane - this is a gorgeous book - such a sad story about Marcella. Johnny certainly managed to turn his sorrow into a true act of love by sharing it with other children. Thank you for sharing - I had never heard this story. Bless You! xo Debbie

  6. I love the covers and the illustrations. I even like the fact that someone added an index. Lovely book and lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  7. This is such a lovely edition. The cover art is really beautiful. I have two Raggedy Ann and Andy books here, with illustrations by Gruelle. Raggedy Andy was my favorite doll when I was little. He went everywhere with me. His fabric eventually disintegrated, but I still have a tiny little piece of his face in a little box of childhood treasures. (I wrote a post about him about a year ago.)

  8. what a treasure. I have a book of ann and andy called the camel with the wrinkley knees. The art work looks much the same but I am not sure if it is a first edition I will have to find it and look.

  9. Thank you so much for stopping in to share your thoughts about this great artist and author. I searched this information about the 'Camel' book..."According to Gruelle, the idea for a camel character came from a cloth toy purchased for his children. When Gruelle removed dangerously sharp leg skewers and plopped the stuffed camel down on a table, its knees crumpled and a new character was born." Patricia Hall, Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle (2001)

  10. Wow..totally beautiful..you always share such unique treasures! Beautiful book..gorgeous art..so lovely and dreamy! I especially love this last image..beautiful!!
    Shine on kindred..thanks for a wonderful post full of magic!

  11. I love the book. At one time I collected Raggedy Ann & Andy's. I have always love pretty children's books. I also love the one's by Tasha Tudor.

  12. How sad that his daughter died so young. But what a lovely tribute to her memory lives on in his work. I love these illustrations.

  13. I had the original dolls growing up. i loved my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls!

  14. O my, this is a treasure. We have a doll named Marcella, after her. Thank you for sharing; I'm very glad indeed to have discovered your beautiful blog :)

  15. This book is just stunning! Thank you for the history lesson on Raggedy Ann too. It's a sad and beautiful story at the same time.
    I hope I stumble across one of these books someday. :)
    Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  16. Would want to own one too! Where did you get this book from?


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane