Max and Moritz: A Story of Naughty Boys in Seven Pranks


Max and Moritz, a picture story about two mischievous little boys, is one of the most popular German children’s books. The first edition came out in late October 1865 in a print run of 4,000 copies. The author, Wilhelm Busch (1832–1908), had intended to have his tale published in Fliegende Blätter, then a successful satirical weekly paper, but publisher Kaspar Braun included the title in the children’s books catalog of the firm of Braun & Schneider. The comic story is told in rhyming verse, and divided into seven “pranks”: “Erster Streich” (First prank), the second through sixth pranks, and “Letzter Streich” (Final prank). The work is illustrated by wood engravings that are also by Busch and colorfully stenciled by hand. When Busch died in 1908, Max and Moritz was in its 56th edition. The popularity of the book spread beyond the German-speaking world, and Busch’s verses were translated into English, French, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, and other languages. The Katzenjammer Kids, an American comic created by German immigrant Rudolph Dirks (1877–1968), was inspired by Max and Moritz, making it a predecessor of the early comic strips.

Last updated: January 8, 2018