King Matt the First
King Matt the First—a Polish icon of children’s literature—became the must-read of each child not only in Poland but also in many countries in Western Europe. The novel has been translated into dozens of languages and repeatedly adapted for the silver screen.
This ‘Limited Series’ edition has been created in memory of the prestigious 1955 publication, which has since become established in the memory of today’s parents and grandparents as a canon of world Classics for children. The illustrations were drawn by George Srokowski—one of the best Polish graphic artists of the twentieth century.
The author of this Polish novel, Janusz Korczak, was a co-founder and director of the orphanage for Jewish children in Warsaw (1912-1942) which was moved in 1940 to the Warsaw ghetto. Until the last moment, he remained with the orphans. He died a martyr’s death in the Treblinka extermination camp.
Written in 1922, this children’s novel tells the adventures of a nine-year-old prince who suddenly inherits the throne from his father. At first the boy submits himself to old royal customs and to the influence of the incumbent ministers. However, he soon decides to prove to the world and to himself his independence and courage, reaching out to standards repeatedly set by his heroic ancestry. So, when war breaks out, with his friend Felix, Matt disguises himself as a common soldier and joins the fight. The life at the front teaches him humility, resolve, emotional self-control, resourcefulness and the price of true friendship. After a triumphant return from the war, Matt feels that he has already acquired enough experience and wisdom to break free from the control of his mentors and advisers…and to govern. He chooses his allies and friends, including King Bum-Drum. In his dream of a fair state, he introduces many bold reforms. Yet, he commits the unfortunate mistake of bringing to life a governing assembly run by adults and children with equal prerogatives. This too far-reaching reform unites his enemies and weakens his country. Foreign powers take advantage of the situation and attack King Matt’s kingdom. This time, despite a brave defence, Matt is defeated and judged. He is sentenced to death, but the punishment is mitigated in the last minute and turned into an exile on a desert island.