“Anything to me is sweeter – than to see Shock-headed Peter”
It’s only a German children’s book, but it’s become world-famous! The Original Struwwelpeter was written (and illustrated) by Dr Heinrich Hoffmann in Frankfurt in 1845. Originally titled as “funny stories and cute pictures with 15 beautifully colored boards for children from 3–6 years” – it in fact is quite cruel and violent: little Paulinchen plays with matches and burns to death, Johnny-Look-In-The-Air falls into the water and nearly drowns, and Konrad gets his thumbs cut off by a tailor with a huge pair of scissors as a punishment for sucking his thumbs! Shock-head Peter, the title story, never combed his hair nor cuts his nails and of course is featured as nasty and disgusting.
Der Struwwelpeter contains 10 rhymed and illustrated stories about children for children, educating them to behave properly! The book became extremely popular over generations and has been translated into many languages, including an English version by Mark Twain “Slovenly Peter”. Google your native language version to see if it’s available.
Thank goodness education has changed over time, but the book remains incredibly popular. Even the young generation seems to learn and remember the rhymes and stories. I, for one, know them by heart to this day.
The Frankfurt Struwwelpeter Museum, in the centre of Neue Altstadt, shows the stories and the history of the book and the author and has changing cultural exhibitions in reference to the book.