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Erich Kastner - Author

About the 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 by Erich Kastner

Other books by Erich Kastner

Dot and Anton

Dot and Anton

7+ readers

Author: Erich Kastner, Nathan Burton Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/04/2015

'Gadzooks!' said Dot ...'The things that boy can do!' Dot loves play-acting, dressing up her pet dachshund Piefke and making up words like 'splentastic'. Her best friend is Anton, who lives in a little apartment and looks after his mother. They share a secret - every night, when their parents think they are asleep, they sell matches and shoelaces on the streets of Berlin with Dot's grumpy governess. But why? The answers involve a villain called 'Robert the Devil', a club-wielding maid, a wobbly tooth, a pair of silver shoes and a policeman dancing the tango.

ebook of the month
Emil and the Detectives

Emil and the Detectives

Author: Erich Kastner, Carl Miller Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/11/2013

'Password Emil!' If Mrs Tischbein had known the amazing adventures her son Emil would have in Berlin, she'd never have let him go. Emil is excited to be taking the train on his own for the first time. He doesn't like the look of his fellow passenger, the man in the bowler hat. Emil will just have to keep his wits about him and his money in his pocket. But Emil falls asleep and when he wakes up the man in the bowler hat is gone - and so is the money! Emil is determined to get it back. He teams upwith a gang of young detectives and so begins a hair-raising chase across Berlin to catch the dirty rotten thief...

Emil And The Three Twins

Emil And The Three Twins

Author: Erich Kastner Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/03/2002

Emil and the three twins? Three Twins? Yes, you read that correctly. Emil Tischbein has another adventure with his old friends the Professor, Gustav and Little Tuesday - this time by the sea. Of course, the detectives couldn't have an ordinary seaside holiday like other people - and when they become entangled with the mystery of the three acrobat twins and the wicked Herr Anders, it looks as if it's going to turn into a most extraordinary time for them all!

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