Though a rather slow and lazy child who took his time at finishing his physicians training, he soon buckled down and became a hard working doctor splitting his time between a free “paupers clinic” and his own private practice.
His foray into writing came about when he wished to find an illustrated book for his three year old son for Christmas. He was disappointed in the tales of his time and felt they held no specific moral guide and thus was born: Struwwelpeter (Straw head Peter in English).
Though to modern eyes the books seems harsh, almost cruel in some respects, to his Victorian Peers it was seen as common sense and also with a bit of wit. I think we often miss the sly humor and quiet wit of the Victorian. Perhaps in our overly critical and sometimes far too politically correct way, we often miss the point. And when it comes right down too it, these stories do contain some common sense, such as keep clean, be kind and considerate of others and don’t consider yourself better or above others. Good ideas for any modern person or nation today.
Lucky for us, his works are beyond copyright and we may enjoy them today. I will include the links to them as well as put them into my hopefully growing library of interesting vintage free books.
Here is an interesting German short read in the original language and done with some fun costuming.
The book lead to many film and stage versions. Here is a compilation of a rather well recieved stage production from 1998. In this interpretation one can see how we modern viewers take it more as a Gothic horror story, when in fact it was rather a light slightly comic tale with real moral ideas in its own time.
Another poem in the book is Cruel Frederick. (You can click on the images to see them full size).
Here are some lovely children’s school stage productions of the poems in English. They are sweet in their innocence and rather more like the original intent, I believe. Enjoy!