Stein of the Month: May 2001

A Child's Krug Featuring
Max and Moritz

By: Joachim Gehres

Wilhelm Busch (1832 - 1908) is best-known as the creator of the stylishly "bad" Max and Moritz cartoon characters but was also an accomplished painter. He is considered by some to be the most beloved of all German poets. 


Having an ambition to be like the Dutch and Flemish master painters of the time, he “stumbled into immortality” through his cartoons originally developed for a satirical magazine. Adding his own humorous verses, his cartoons became richly developed and elaborate. Busch wrote all of his cartoon-story text in a special form of narrative prose by using couplets - rhyming paired lines. In some circles, Busch is also viewed as the father of the modern comic strip. Famous in his later years, he lived withdrawn and down-played his notoriety.


Rudolph Dirks (1877-1968), the creator of the cartoon strip Katzenjammer Kids, which came into being around 1897, introduced the concept of the strip which “may be said to have had its inception in this tradition which stemmed ... from a humorous book of maxims and pictures titled 'Max und Moritz'...”[1]

Wilhelm is well known for the Seven Pranks of Max und Moritz [2] written in 1865. It is the story of two young scoundrels who use their cleverness to carry out mischievous pranks, aimed at their teacher, neighbors, and various animals. Fortunately or unfortunately, they get caught in the end. Their pranks became required reading for many young adolescents and/or the young at heart. 

Wilhelm Busch also wrote:

  • The Miller's Bold Daughter
  • The Unlucky Raven
  • The Mole
  • And others, which have been translated into English by various poets, which can already be found a various websites [3]

A large selection of his works can also be seen in two bindings [4] (German verse):

  • Und die moral von der Geschict (And The Moral Of The Story)
  • Was Beliebt ist auch Erlaubt (Something Beloved Is Also Permitted)


[4] Wilhelm Busch – C.Bertelsmann Verlag Gmbh – ISBN 3-570-030040-0