Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann was a German psychiatrist, and the author of several children's stories. Born in Frankfurt am Main, Hoffmann worked for a pauper's clinic and had a private practice, when he became the psychiatrist of the city's lynatic asylum in 1851. He has also published several essays and books about psychiatry. Hoffmann had also published poems and a satirical comedy before he turned to writing children's stories.
He wrote his first children's verses as a Christmas present for his son, but by 1845 he was persuaded to publish them in a book. Accompanied by illustrations made by Hoffmann himself, the book offered "merry stories and whimsical pictures" about mischievous children and their punishments, that would be deemed horrific these days. Thumbs are cut off, boys are dipped in black ink, one boy dies of starvation, another is blown away by the wind with his umbrella. The best known of these moralistic stories became 'Der Struwwelpeter' ('Shockheaded Peter'), about a boy with poor hygiene, and it would give the book its title from the third edition.
'Der Struwwelpeter' knows several international editions, and it has been adapted to music, films and stage plays. Hoffmann continued to write new stories, and his next book, called 'König Nussknacker und der arme Reinhold', was published in 1851.