Johann David Wyss Swiss Family Robinson

Johann David Wyss, born on March 13, 1743, was a chaplain in the Swiss army and served in Italy. He is credited with writing Swiss Family Robinson but the story of family involvement only begins there.

Johann David Wyss had four sons who loved to hear stories based on Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The Swiss Family Robinson differed from Robinson Crusoe in that a whole family was shipwrecked. From this, a father could use the opportunity to teach his children values of life and civilization.

The family discussed these stories and then took turns making up their own tales of adventure. Each boy took turns telling their tale and their father would write the stories down. One of the sons, Johann Emmanuel Wyss, illustrated the adventures with drawings and watercolors. Years later another son, Johann Rudolph Wyss, edited his father’s work and submitted it for publication.

The first English translation appeared in 1814 and since then the immensely popular book has appeared in over 200 editions in English.

Incidentally, Johann Rudolph Wyss went on to write the Swiss national anthem. He died in 1818.


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