In the 19th century, a German psychiatrist and writer wrote a children’s book which, if published today, would cause an outrageous scandal.
The year was 1845, the writer Heinrich Hoffmann, and the book was called Der Struwwelpeter, or Shaggy Peter. It is the most demented book ever published in Germany, where each morality tale is supposed to scare little children into behaving.
(Struwwelpeter from 1845, First Edition)
Although today most parents would find the book disturbing, most parents in 1845 loved the book and found it incredibly funny. Der Struwwelpeter contains ten very short but merciless stories. Unlike any other bedtime story, in these ones, little children are severely punished for bizarre mistakes and misbehaving.
(Nikolas, as he is about to dunk three boys in his inkstand. Illustration from a 1917 edition)
One such example is The Story of Augustus who wouldn’t eat his soup. Apparently, the boy was a “chubby lad” and a “hearty, healthy boy” who suddenly decided that he won’t eat soup any more:
“O take the nasty soup away!
I won’t have any soup today.”
Unfortunately, even though Augustus eats all other meals, he gets very ill from not eating soup and dies after five days.
(Struwwelpeter Soup rim bowl featuring the story of fidgety Phillip and on the edge the story of the Soup-Kaspar)
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