Heinrich Hoffmann wrote Der Struwwelpeter as a Christmas present for his young son after being disappointed by the overly moralizing and heavy-handed offerings in the Frankfurt bookstores. His hand-made book was so popular with his family and friends that he decided to publish it in 1845 under the pseudonym Reimerich Kinderlieb, which loosely translates as “the colorful rhymester who loves children.”
Der Struwwelpeter was a commercial success, having achieved 100 editions in its first 30 years and countless more since.
Der Struwwelpeter; oder, Lustige Geschichten und Drollige Bilder für Kinder von 3 - 6 Jahren, by Heinrich Hoffmann (Stuttgart: F. Carl, c. 1900)
Its interplay of illustration and text makes it one of the first true picture books for children, and it was also one of the first to popularize the process of chromolithography. Hoffmann insisted the lithographer follow his drawings closely, “to make sure my amateurish style was not artistically improved and idealized,” though in 1868 the illustrations were redrawn for use in the wood engraving process. Shown here is an early-20th century German edition with the new illustrations (top) and a late-19th century American edition with hand-colored illustrations based on Hoffman’s original designs (bottom).
Slovenly Peter; or, Cheerful Stories and Funny Pictures for Good Little Folks, by Heinrich Hoffmann (Philadelphia: John C. Winston, c. 1880)