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Crockett Johnson and Ruth KraussHow an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature$
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Philip Nel

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617036248

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617036248.001.0001

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(p.2) (p.3) Introduction
Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss

Philip Nel

University Press of Mississippi

Crockett Johnson and his wife, Ruth Krauss, were two well-known authors of children’s books from the 1950s. Between them, they created more than seventy-five books, many of which became classics. His works include the comic strip Barnaby (1942–1952) and his best-known book, Harold and the Purple Crayon. She wrote A Hole Is to Dig (1952), the classic that launched Maurice Sendak’s career. Despite (or perhaps because of) their modest acclaim, Crockett and Ruth became objects of surveillance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation beginning in April 1950. Situated at the intersection of art, politics, and commerce, their lives offer a glimpse into the histories of children’s books, comics, and the American Left. They were also best friends, their love story punctuated by complementary opposites. This biography situates the lives of Crockett and Ruth in historical, cultural, literary, geographical, and political contexts.

Keywords:   children’s books, Crockett Johnson, Ruth Krauss, Barnaby, Harold and the Purple Crayon, A Hole Is to Dig, Maurice Sendak, Federal Bureau of Investigation, comics, biography

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