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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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What Would Harold Do?

What Would Harold Do?

(p.255) 26 What Would Harold Do?
Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss

Philip Nel

University Press of Mississippi

Upon learning of Crockett Johnson’s lung cancer, Ruth Krauss fell into a state of collapse. At the end of the first week of February 1975, he checked in to Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. He then underwent surgery at New York’s Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to remove part of his lungs, but the operation’s ameliorative effects were temporary. The cancer had already spread, and further operations would not only be dangerously invasive but also unlikely to succeed. Johnson’s once large body began to waste away. He was scared, but when he was asked “What would Harold do?” he grew interested in looking at his illness from Harold’s perspective and calmed down. In July, Johnson passed away. In its obituary, The New York Times ran an obituary describing him as a cartoonist and creator of Barnaby, author of “more than a dozen children’s books, including Harold and the Purple Crayon and Harold’s Fairy Tale.” There was also a photo of Johnson and a drawing of Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley, who would be his artistic and intellectual legacy. Johnson’s ashes were scattered in Long Island Sound in New York.

Keywords:   lung cancer, Crockett Johnson, Ruth Krauss, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, obituary, New York Times, Barnaby, children’s books, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Harold’s Fairy Tale

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