Ruth Stiles Gannett

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Ruth Stiles Gannett
Born (1923-08-12) August 12, 1923 (age 99)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
GenreChildren's literature
Notable works

Ruth Stiles Gannett Kahn (born August 12, 1923) is an American children's writer best known for My Father's Dragon and its two sequels—collectively sometimes called the My Father's Dragon or the Elmer and the Dragons series or trilogy.


Gannett graduated from City and Country School in Greenwich Village, New York City, in the class of 1937. There, she recalled in 2012, "she benefited from being 'allowed and encouraged to write for fun' at certain times of the day".[1] She then attended the George School and Vassar College, graduating with a B.A. in chemistry in 1944.[2][3]

Early career[edit]

After graduating from Vassar, Gannett moved to Boston where she worked at Boston General Hospital and then at the Massachusetts Radiation Laboratory. She then worked at a ski lodge, and afterward returned to live with her parents which is where she completed work on her most defining work. In 1947 the year her seminal work was published she married Peter Kahn.[4]

Writing career[edit]

Gannett's first novel, My Father's Dragon, was published by Random House in 1948[2] and was a runner-up for the annual Newbery Medal recognizing the year's "most distinguished contribution" to American children's literature. She wrote two more novels in that series, Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. The books were illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, her stepmother,[3][a] and the typography was designed by her husband, H. Peter Kahn.[citation needed] They have been translated into fourteen languages.[5]

Gannett wrote two other short children's novels, The Wonderful House-Boat-Train (1949) and Katie and the Sad Noise (1961), illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg and Ellie Simmons.

Kirkus Reviews covered two of the books briefly, showing disappointment in both Gannett's and Eichenberg's work on the house-boat-train and unusual enthusiasm for Gannett's story in a starred review of The Dragons of Blueland.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Ruth Gannett married artist, art history professor,[7] and calligrapher H. Peter Kahn, (1921–1997).[8] The couple had seven daughters and eight grandchildren at the time of Kahn's death.[7] She lives near Trumansburg, New York, near Cornell University, where Peter Kahn was employed for forty years.[5][8] She is the great-granddaughter of Ezra Stiles Gannett.[9]


My Father's Dragon series

Sometimes called the "Elmer and the Dragons series", the three short novels were written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by her stepmother Ruth Chrisman Gannett.[10]

50th Anniversary omnibus edition: Three Tales of My Father's Dragon (Random House, 1998), OCLC 37030387.[11]


Gannett introduced the 1991 Yearling edition of Edith Nesbit's collection The Book of Dragons (OCLC 696817759), later issued in the Looking Glass Library (2013, OCLC 869499406).


  1. ^ Ruth Adelaide Chrisman (Arens), December 16, 1896 – December 8, 1979, married her second husband Lewis Stiles Gannett in 1931 and illustrated several of his books.[10] She illustrated Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (1935). She was a runner-up for the 1946 Caldecott Medal recognizing her illustration of My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, retold by Becky Reyher (Lothrop, 1945), OCLC 225716. (Thirty years later Reyher and Gannett brought and lost an important lawsuit, Reyher v. Children's Television Workshop.) She illustrated Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (Viking, 1946), for which Bailey won the 1947 Newbery Medal. She collaborated with her step-daughter Ruth Stiles Gannett.[10]


  1. ^ Burak, David (July 25, 2012). "My Father's Dragon Translated Into Chinese". Ithaca Times ( Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Silvey, Anita, ed. (2002). The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators. Houghton Mifflin. p. 172. ISBN 0547348894. Retrieved January 19, 2014. Ruth Stiles Gannett newbery honor. Google Books.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b "Ruth Chrisman Gannett Biography". Scholastic ( 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014. With linked "List of books" in print by Scholastic.
  4. ^ My Father's Dragon website entry on Gannett
  5. ^ a b Wilensky, Joe (November 6, 2008). "Kids' Book Fest, Nov. 8, returns to My Father's Dragon for theme of adventure" (PDF). Family Reading Partnership ( Retrieved January 19, 2014. "Portions of this article were originally published in The Ithaca Journal and Ithaca Times, November 6, 2008."
  6. ^ "The Wonderful House-Boat-Train by Ruth Stiles Gannett" [1949].
      "The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett" [1951].
    Kirkus Reviews. Undated contemporary reviews. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "H. Peter Kahn obituary" (PDF). Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Kahn Family Fellowship". Ithaca, NY: The Ink Shop ( 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014. "[A] man whose life was dedicated to art, especially the arts of fine printing and the handmade book. A prolific typographer, illustrator and book designer as well as a painter, the German-born artist was a member of the Cornell community for forty years."
  9. ^ [1] Marilynn Munoz genealogy site, retrieved December 26, 2014
  10. ^ a b c "Gannett, Ruth Chrisman, 1896–1979". Library of Congress Authorities ( Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "Publisher description for Three tales of my father's dragon {...}". Library of Congress Catalog ( Retrieved September 22, 2014.

External links[edit]