ATG Quirkies: The 19th-Century Book of Horrors That Scared German Kids Into Behaving

Written by Heinrich Hoffman as a Christmas gift for his three-year-old son, “Struwwelpeter,” or “Shockheaded Peter,” is a collection of “grisly moral tales” with illustrations that according to Atlas Obscura’s  Sarah Laskow, inspired Edward Scissorhands.  Not what you’d expect from a children’s book, but evidently, in 19th century Germany there was a demand for the moral lessons imparted by the book. “By 1848 it was already in its sixth edition and had sold more than 20,000 copies.”

Ms. Laskow tells the story of this classic of children’s literature and notes that “the New York Public Library’s rare books collection holds one of the original copies from 1845, and the illustrations—Hoffman’s hand-colored originals—from that edition are reproduced” in her post.

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