Why Did EH Gombrich Write a Little History of the World?

EH Gombrich, an art historian and scholar, wrote ‘A Little History of the World’ with the intention of introducing children to the vast world of history. In this book, he covers a wide range of topics from ancient civilizations to modern times. The book’s original German title is ‘Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser,’ which translates to ‘A Short World History for Young Readers.’

Why Did Gombrich Write This Book?
Gombrich was inspired to write this book after being asked by a friend to recommend a history book for her son. He realized that there were no books available that catered to children and provided an overall understanding of world history. Gombrich saw this as an opportunity to introduce young readers to the complexities of the past in a way that was both educational and entertaining.

The Writing Process
Gombrich started working on ‘A Little History of the World’ in 1935 while he was living in Vienna. He finished writing it in 1936, just before he fled from Austria due to the Nazi occupation. The book was published in Austria in 1936 but was soon banned by the Nazis because it contained ideas that went against their ideology.

In 1948, Gombrich revised and updated his book, which was published in English for the first time. The revised edition has since been translated into over twenty languages.

The Impact of ‘A Little History of the World’

‘A Little History of the World’ became an instant success and has remained popular among readers over the years. Its impact can be seen through its numerous translations and adaptations into various formats such as audiobooks and graphic novels.

Gombrich’s approach to history-telling is unique because he uses simple language and relatable examples that make it easy for young readers to understand complex events. He also adds his personal opinions and experiences, which adds a touch of humor to the book.


EH Gombrich’s ‘A Little History of the World’ is a timeless classic that has successfully introduced generations of young readers to the fascinating world of history. Its impact can be seen through its numerous translations and adaptations into various formats. Gombrich’s unique approach to history-telling has made it easy for children to understand complex events and appreciate the significance of historical events.