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1001 Stories Collection

The Letter for the King

1001 The Letter For The King
Added on 14th August 2020

Author Tonke Dragt
First published 1962

A story of an urgent quest fraught with danger, set in a fictional medieval world.


The night before 16-year-old Tiuri is due to be knighted, he receives a sealed letter from a stranger. Accepting the task to deliver it safely to a neighbouring kingdom, he sets off on a secret quest across forests and mountains, hunted by hostile riders and racing a looming war.

Why we chose it

A fantasy adventure with a urgent quest, a secret letter that must be delivered, mysterious travellers, peril, jeopardy and pursuit, The Letter for the King has been a best seller in Europe since its first publication in 1962. It was first translated into English, by Laura Watkinson, in 2013.

Where it came from

Dragt was born in Batavia, Indonesia. During the Second World War, she, her mother and her sisters were interned in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Bored and with no books available, Dragt and a friend of hers wrote their first book, aged 13, using loose sheets of paper and toilet rolls. The family later moved back to the Netherlands but Batavia continued to inspire the settings of many of Dragt’s stories. Her stories are mainly set in fantasy, science fiction or fictional medieval worlds and include elements of legends and epic quests. Her style and themes were considered to be unique in Dutch children's literature as at the time most Dutch children's literature was set in a day-to-day realistic settings.

Tonke Dragt worked as an art teacher, but found her students to be too talkative, inspiring her to tell them stories during class. The Letter for the King originated this way on the last day of a term, with Dragt going on to write the book over the holidays.

Where it went next

The Letter to the King sold over 1 million copies and was widely translated. In the Netherlands, it was awarded Best Children’s Book of the Year 1963 and best Dutch youth book of the latter half of the 20th century. In 2020, an adaption into a Netflix original TV series was released.

Associated stories

Tiuri was sent on another dangerous mission in a sequel entitled The Secrets of the Wild Wood, published in 1965.

Added on 14th August 2020

Author Tonke Dragt
First published 1962