Wilhelm Busch Biography: German POET


Wilhelm Busch

Heinrich Christian Wilhelm Busch was a German humorist, poet, illustrator, and painter. He published wildly innovative illustrated tales that remain influential to this day.


  • The German nineteenth-century artist Wilhelm Busch is regarded as one of the founders of modern-day comics. He pioneered several elements which have become staples of the medium, such as onomatopeia and expressive movement lines. His iconic series 'Max und Moritz' (1865), about two naughty young boys, was the first children's comic in history. Its success proved that young readers were the most important market for comics, which has been both a blessing as well as a curse for the medium. 'Max und Moritz' were translated all across the globe and inspired countless gag comics about mischievous children, some even blatant rip-offs like Rudolph Dirks' 'Der Katzenjammer Kids'. Because of their subversive tone Busch' series also became the first comics to be subject of a media scare. In some countries his work was even banned. Busch is the first significant German comic artist and therefore the historical starting point of all German-language comics that followed. He is also one of the few 19th-century comic artists whose work is still read today and recognizable to a large cultivated audience.


Early life

Born in 1832 in Wiedensahl, Germany, he started studying mechanical engineering in Hanover in 1847. However, in 1851 -a few months before graduation- he dropped these studies in favor of a course in lithography in DΓΌsseldorf. A year later, he moved to Antwerp, Belgium, where he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, but discontinued these too in 1853, after running out of money and suffering from tyfus. He did have the ability to study Flemish classical painters such as Frans Hals, Adriaen Brouwer, David Teniers and Peter Paul Rubens. An attempt to continue his studies in MΓΌnich once again failed.

Wilhelm Busch became known for his picture stories. His entire body of work is significantly more diverse.Busch now publishes stories such as "Eduard's Dream" (1891) and "The Butterfly" (1895). In between, he writes his autobiography in 1893 with a smiling look back: "From me about me" is a few pages short, to the point and as vivid as the friends of his drawings expect from him.


In 1898 Busch moved with his sister to live with one of his nephews in Mechtshausen am Harz - again in a rectory, because the nephew had also become a pastor. On January 9, 1908, Wilhelm Busch died at the age of 75 and was buried in the small town near Seesen. Only then will another side of Busch be made accessible to the public: the previously completely unknown paintings and drawings with natural motifs.


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