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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.145) 16 Harold
Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss

Philip Nel

University Press of Mississippi

In November 1954, Crockett Johnson finished dummies for Harold and the Purple Crayon. In December 1954, he received a $750 advance and a contract from Harper for the publication of the book. That very same day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New Haven office asked director J. Edgar Hoover for “Bureau authority” to interview Johnson, citing their uncertainty about whether Johnson “has defected from his participation in Communist front groups or from the Communist Party.” Meanwhile, Ruth Krauss was looking forward to the fall publication of Charlotte and the White Horse and working on her next book, even as a weekly television show was in the works for an adaptation of her husband’s comic strip Barnaby. Johnson was also pondering other ideas for children’s books. After Ursula Nordstrom’s initial lack of enthusiasm about Harold and the Purple Crayon, the book was eventually published in the fall of 1955 and became a runaway hit. Over the next ten years, Johnson would write more sequels of the book.

Keywords:   children’s books, Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Harper, Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, Ruth Krauss, Charlotte and the White Horse, Barnaby, Ursula Nordstrom

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