Over 100 years ago back in 1915, Raggedy Ann was first patented and released by Johnny Gruelle, a now famous cartoonist, illustrator, and author. More than just a doll, Raggedy Ann (and later her brother, Raggedy Andy) were put into a multitude of stories written by Gruelle and became extremely well known characters throughout the United States.
What is interesting, however, is the fact that there are a large number of varying stories and legends regarding the origins of Raggedy Ann. Many of these stories have contributed to the overall legacy and spirit of Raggedy Ann, even though they may not have any historical root. As Patricia Hall, noted Johnny Gruelle and Raggedy Ann historian, says:
"In the case of Raggedy Ann and Andy, the legends are as important as factual history in telling their story. Because the Raggedys sprang directly from the rich and embellished world of storytelling -- a world of frolicking fairies; come-alive dolls and talking forest critters -- it makes great sense to not discount legends simply because they are folklore, and therefore, "unprovable."
While legends can frustrate the conscientious historian in search of hard, provable facts and figures, they can tell us different things than facts, and they possess powers that historical data do not. Legends have the power of revealing ethics and values; preferences and motives; emotions and reactions. And, in the case of the Raggedys, legends have the singular ability to showcase the true personalities of these fanciful dolls, as well as lending insight into the persona of their creator, Johnny Gruelle."
Many of these myths surround Johnny Gruelle's daughter, Marcella, and the influence she had on her father. For example, in one story, Marcella found an old doll in the attic and brought it to her father, who then decided to name it after the names of several poems written by a friend of his. Of course, this is simply one of many myths and does not have much historical evidence to back it up.
While the origins may be unclear, the simple spirit and cherished values represented by Raggedy Ann & Andy and the legends surrounding them remain true to this day, and are a large reason why Raggedy Ann continues to inspire such a following in people both young and old. The yearning for the simpler times and straightforward values is something we can all relate to, and part of what makes Raggedy Ann so appealing to both children and their parents.
Even after over 100 years, Raggedy Ann continues to be a staple in the world, with new editions still being released. Most recently, we have seen the release of the 100 year anniversary edition (released last year) and the new Support Our Troops edition
, created in partnership with the Support Our Troops foundation.