Cover image for The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Everyman's library children's classics

Everyman's library children's classics.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Publisher Info:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1993.
Physical Description:
104 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm.
Everyman's library children's classics

Everyman's library children's classics.
The Pied Piper pipes the village free of rats, and when the villagers refuse to pay him for the service he exacts a terrible revenge by piping away their children.


Call Number
Material Type
J 821 BRO Book Juvenile Nonfiction

On Order



Robert Browning's famous verse retelling of the medieval legend of the Pied Piper is renowned for its humor and vivid wordplay. When the selfish townspeople of Hamelin refuse to pay the piper for spiriting away the hordes of rats that had plagued them, he exacts his revenge by luring away their greatest treasure, the children of the town.

Color reproductions of Kate Greenaway's beautiful, delicate watercolor illustrations adorn every page.

Author Notes

Robert Browning was the son of a well-to-do clerk in the Bank of England. He was educated by private tutors and from his own reading in his father's library and elsewhere. Browning's first publication was Pauline (1833). The work made no stir at all. The following year Browning went to St. Petersburg and from there to Italy. On his return to England in 1835 he published Paracelsus, a dramatic poem based on the life of the fifteenth-century magician and alchemist.

Browning next attempted a play. Strafford was the first of the poet's dramatic failures; it ran only five nights at Covent Garden in 1836. An obscure and difficult poem, Sordello, appeared in 1840. It did a great deal toward giving Browning a reputation for being unintelligible and for limiting the circles of his readers.

The most important event in Browning's life occurred in 1846, when he married Elizabeth Barrett. The marriage brought a new lightness and openness of voice to Browning's verse during the next 21 years, resulting in the great dramatic monologues of Men and Women in 1855 and the epic The Ring and the Book in 1867. It is not that these are the most beautiful poems of the Victorian Age, but they are the most perceptive; they reveal more clearly the men and women who speak the monologues, and the poet who conceived them, than any comparable works of the century.

In the last two decades of his life Browning produced only a few great poems but much were grotesque and fantastic. He turned, too, to translations and transcriptions from the Greek tragedies; in spite of some powerful passages, these were not highly successful

Robert Browning died in Italy in 1889. His body lies in Westminster Abbey.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3 Up There is much to praise in this retelling of Browning's classic poem. The book is a small masterpiece of design, from the rat-interlaced vines on the endpapers to the fine quality of the paper. Verses are set off with calligraphy letters and delicate pen-and-ink designs which highlight the maroon of the cover. The detailed black-and-white illustrations evoke the despair and delight of the citizens of Hamelin more successfully than Kate Greenaway's classic illustrations, using touches of humor and action. Small has included a six-page introduction which provides some historical background for the legend and a brief rationale for his changes in the text (namely, that the poem is no longer understandable). The book jacket describes these as ``slight'' modifications; however in a number of places, including the first verse, changes are so major that Browning's words are completely lost. On a number of occasions words are altered when their meanings are understandable in the original text (``ever'' is changed to ``always'' or ``gowns lined with ermine'' is changed to ``fine gowns of ermine,'' for example). Small's retelling of the legend is clear; his verse is often sprightly and less cumbersome than Browning's. Those who prefer Browning's poem in the original should select the edition illustrated by Anatoly Ivanov (Lothrop, 1986). Because of the beautiful design of this book, librarians might offer it to young readers along with Ivanov's or Greenaway's versions so that they can do their own comparisons of the merits of illustrations and text. Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Browning's poem, a classic, is based on a legend from medieval times. It tells of a brightly-clad stranger who offers to rid the town of Hamelin of rats, for an agreed-upon sum of money. When he plays a haunting tune on his pipe, the rats follow him to their deaths in the river, but the mayor won't pay the piper. In revenge, the piper lures the children out of town into a cave, forever separated from their parents, though in a Utopian land of beauty. The poem's language is rich and lyrical, although spots are difficult for children to grasp, which is why many of the versions for children are adaptations. Here is a new, unabridged edition, dramatically illustrated in glowing colors (sometimes verging on gaudy). It's full of motion and expression, capturing the spirit of the poem and the details of the medieval town, as well as the Eden-like land where the children are taken. (59) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved