Erich Kastner - Author Picture

Erich Kastner - Author

Erich Kästner began his career as a journalist and, later, a freelance theatre critic. In 1929 he published his first book for children, Emil and the Detectives, which has since been translated into nearly 60 languages and sold millions of copies around the world. He then went on to publish Dot and Anton in 1931 and The Flying Classroom in 1933, both illustrated by Walter Trier, whose elegant, perceptive illustrations grace numerous Kästner books.

After the Nazis took power in Germany, Kästner’s books – thinly veiled critiques of society’s fall to fascism – were denounced and burnt. He faced repeated arrest and interrogation by the Gestapo, resulting in his blacklisting and exclusion from the writers’ guild. As such, his stories celebrate democracy, kindness, independent thinking and courage, and denounce unfairness, bullying, assumed authority and tyranny of any kind.

After the end of World War II, Kästner moved to Munich and published The Parent Trap, later adapted into a hit film by Walt Disney. In 1957 he received the Georg Büchner Prize and, later, the Order of Merit and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his contribution to children’s literature. One of the best loved and most read children’s authors around the world, Kästner died in Munich in 1974.

Erich Kästner is the only writer known to have been present at the burning of his own books (‘Against decadence and the decline of morals!’ they yelled), on Berlin’s Opernplatz on 10 May 1933:

‘… And then Goebbels appeared. He stood in front of a balustrade besieged by microphones and gesticulated before the light of the fire like a little devil before Hell. He vociferated and spouted, called writers by their names and committed their books to the flames and oblivion. This was no Grand Inquisitor, but a little molesting pyrotechnician… Our intention to attend this apocalyptic public festival, as thorough chroniclers, to the end was thwarted by an unforeseen episode. ‘There’s Kästner!’ a young woman called out suddenly, as she passed by with her boyfriend. Her surprise at seeing me, so to speak, among the mourners at my own funeral, was so great that she even pointed at me. I must admit that I didn’t feel exactly comfortable. Shortly before, someone else had already called my name, loudly – that student of Gundolf’s, on his microphone-besieged balustrade…’ (from ‘Can Books Be Burnt? On the Anniversary of an Outrage’, 1947; published in On the Burning of Books, Atrium Verlag, 2013)

Featured Books, with extracts, by Erich Kastner

Emil and the Detectives
Erich Kastner
A classic detective story told at a cracking pace, this features one of the first fictional child detectives. When Emil is robbed of his mother's hard earned savings from right out of his pocket as he is asleep on a...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 02/07/2015
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The Flying Classroom
Erich Kastner - illustrated by Walter Trier
One of our Books of the Year 2014 A perfect story for Christmas! Set in a school in the weeks running up to Christmas with all the excitement of an end of term play in the background, The Flying Classroom...
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 06/11/2014
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The Parent Trap
Erich Kastner - illustrated by Walter Trier
One of our Books of the Year 2014 The classic story of Lottie and Luise, two identical little girls who meet for the first time at summer camp and discover that they are twins, is famous as a film. Here,...
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 06/11/2014
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