Who Did EH Gombrich Write Little History of the World For?

EH Gombrich’s Little History of the World is a fascinating book that provides a comprehensive overview of human civilization from prehistoric times to the modern era. But who was the intended audience for this book?

The Intended Audience

Gombrich wrote Little History of the World primarily for children. He wanted to create a book that would provide young readers with an engaging and accessible introduction to world history. According to Gombrich, he wrote the book because he was concerned that most children’s history books were either dry and boring or filled with inaccurate information.

Gombrich believed that children had a natural curiosity about the world around them and that they should be encouraged to explore this curiosity. He felt that by providing them with an interesting and accurate overview of world history, he could help instill in them a lifelong love of learning.

The Style and Content

To make his book more appealing to young readers, Gombrich adopted a conversational style, using simple language and avoiding complex jargon or technical terms. He also included numerous illustrations throughout the book, which helped bring the text to life and engage young readers.

In terms of content, Gombrich focused on telling stories about key events and individuals in world history rather than providing a dry recitation of facts and dates. He also emphasized the interconnections between different cultures and civilizations throughout history, helping young readers see how these different societies influenced each other over time.

  • The Importance of Context: One of Gombrich’s goals in writing Little History was to help children understand historical events within their proper context. For example, he explained how social, economic, and political factors influenced events like the French Revolution or the Industrial Revolution.
  • Emphasis on Human Agency: While acknowledging the importance of broader historical trends, Gombrich also emphasized the role of individual human beings in shaping history.

    He told stories about important figures like Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and showing how their actions had far-reaching consequences.

  • Lessons for the Present: Despite being aimed at children, Little History of the World also contained lessons that are relevant to readers of all ages. Gombrich believed that by understanding the mistakes and triumphs of past civilizations, we can better navigate the challenges of our own time.


In summary, EH Gombrich wrote Little History of the World for children, but his book has relevance for readers of all ages. By providing an engaging and accessible overview of world history, Gombrich hoped to instill in children a love of learning and a curiosity about the world around them. With its conversational style, emphasis on storytelling, and insightful analysis, Little History remains a classic introduction to world history that is enjoyed by readers young and old.