Swollen-headed William: Painful Stories and Funny Pictures after the German!


At the time of the First World War, the children’s book Struwwelpeter (Shock-headed Peter) was a familiar nursery classic in both Germany and Britain. In this British wartime parody, the original cautionary tales of naughty children and their fates are all turned against Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. The “shock-headed Peter” of the title poem becomes “swollen-headed William,” while “fidgety Phil,” whose dinnertime antics knock over the table and ruin the food, becomes “fidgety Will,” who destroys his country’s prosperity. The last poem departs more from the original tale of “flying Robert,” who is carried away by a storm, but it uses the same picture-frame format to show the kaiser assembling a gallery of “lethal aviation” with pictures of Zeppelin raids on Belgian cities.

Last updated: November 25, 2014