My Itinerary ({: itinerary.length :})

{: event.badge :}

{: event.title :}

{: event.dates :} {: event.dateDescription :}
{: item :}
Suitable for {: item :}
1001 Stories Collection

Till Eulenspiegel

1001 Till Eulenspiegel
Added on 13th August 2020

Oral tradition German folktale

Europe Funny Folk and fairy tales

Stories of Till Eulenspiegel the mischievous trickster.


Set in the 14th century, the stories of Till Eulenspiegel tell of his life as a trickster. He travels around Europe playing pranks on people. He didn’t always cause mischief just for fun though, and he often ridiculed the nobility and those above him in society…

Why we chose it

Till Eulensiegel is a trickster character, a practical joker who delights in word play, jokes and playing tricks. He is as well known in Germany as Robin Hood is in England. Michael Rosen chose to be photographed as Till Eulenspeigel for our 26 characters exhibition, saying he was ‘without doubt’ his favourite childhood story character.

Where it came from

The tale of Till Eulenspiegel, whose name means ‘owl mirror’ in English, is said to be based on a real person who died in 1350. The stories emerged much later, in about 1500, and are most commonly jokes and comedies. The earliest surviving text is from 1515, called An Amusing Book About Till Eulenspiegel.

Where it went next

The stories were quickly translated into Dutch, English, French and Latin in the 16th century. Richard Strauss wrote a poem based on the trickster in 1894, called Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.

Associated Stories

Tricksters are popular characters in folk tales and in literature. In Norse mythology Loki plays tricks on the other gods sometimes with disastrous results. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream the mischief caused by Puck has to be undone before the end of the play. In modern literature the characters who play tricks are always popular with readers, from school boys like William Brown in Just William or Henry in Horrid Henry to teenage wizards Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter series.

Added on 13th August 2020

Oral tradition German folktale

Europe Funny Folk and fairy tales