Brehm's animal life

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Illustration by Fedor Flinzer from Brehms Thierleben (1886)

Brehms Tierleben is a zoological reference work that was founded by the non-fiction author Alfred Brehm .

Edition history

19th century

As a freelance writer, Alfred Brehm wrote essays and travel reports for popular scientific journals on zoological topics, which he also published from 1863 in the form of individual deliveries of around 48 pages each at the Bibliographical Institute . Success brought him a contract for a ten-volume zoological encyclopedia in 1860 . The work on it was interrupted by trips to Abyssinia , Scandinavia and Siberia , but also enriched. The first six volumes of Illustrirten Thierleben appeared in the Bibliographisches Institut ( Hildburghausen ) from 1863 to 1869 under the publisher Herrmann Julius Meyer . They met with great approval in wide circles and among the educated middle class.

Budgie , illustration from the 2nd edition

From the second edition (ten volumes 1876–1879, reprinted 1882–1887) the work was called Brehms Thierleben . Brehm himself wrote the six volumes on vertebrates and one of the volumes that appeared later. The work made the author known worldwide and is still a household name today, even if the research has meanwhile gone far beyond Brehm's knowledge. The biggest change in the second edition were probably the new illustrations by Gustav Mützel (1839–1893) and Eduard Oscar Schmidt ( entomologist , 1823–1886), which Charles Darwin said were the best he had ever seen in a work have. The illustrations, whose special style was shaped by Robert Kretschmer (1818–1872) and which greatly influenced specialist zoological literature, made a significant contribution to the popularity of the Tierleben volumes . Friedrich Wilhelm Kuhnert (1865–1926) became known as "Löwen-Kuhnert" among the illustrators of later years .

The third edition followed in 1890-1893. Eduard Pechuel-Loesche was the publisher. The text was edited by various scholars without excessive intervention. This edition is considered the last "real" Brehm. It was translated into several languages by the Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig and distributed among others by Proswestschenie (Enlightenment) , a publisher founded in St. Petersburg in 1896 . In addition to the large editions , table works as well as popular and school editions were also published (1868/70, 1873/74, 1879, 1883, 1892/93)

20th century

In the 20th century, too, the work saw further editions, in which color tables were increasingly integrated. The editions were mostly reprinted several times and appeared in different designs, for example with back vignettes and gold embossing, as large-format half leather bindings or in linen binding. A second original edition, edited by Otto Evers, was published in 1927 by Uhlenhorst Verlag, Curt Brenner, Hamburg.

The 4th edition comprised thirteen volumes and was edited by Otto zur Strassen (Leipzig and Vienna: Bibliographisches Institut 1911–1918). Several reprints appeared by the late 1920s. The text was fundamentally scientifically edited, supplemented and expanded, since an adaptation to contemporary knowledge and teaching seemed necessary. In doing so, he deviated so clearly from Brehm's theory of animals (emotional world, soul life) that some later editors carefully reverted to the previous editions.

Structure (note the ascending order of the animal phyla, etc. compared to the original descending order):

  • Volume 1 : The lower animals (protozoa - sponges - coelotus - worms - mussels - echinoderms - molluscs and crustaceans) , 724 pages with 352 illustrations in the text, 25 colored and 4 black panels, 27 panels based on photographs and drawings and 2 map supplements. With a biography of Alfred Brehm by Ernst Krause and a general introduction by Otto zur Strassen.
  • Volume 2 : The polyhedra, insects and spider guerries . Revised by Richard Heymons. 717 pages with 367 illustrations in the text, 20 colored and 15 black plates, 7 double plates and 4 one-sided plates based on photographs as well as a map insert and 8 pages of indexes.
  • Volume 3 : The Fish . With the participation of Viktor Franz. Revised by Otto Steche . 591 pages with 59 illustrations based on photographs on 10 double panels, 172 illustrations in the text, 19 colored and 34 black panels and 1 map insert.
  • Volume 4 : The amphibians and reptiles . Revised by Franz Werner.
    • First volume: amphibians and reptiles (bridge lizards, turtles, armored lizards) . 572 pages with 127 illustrations in the text, 14 colored and 11 black plates as well as 12 double plates based on photographs.
  • Volume 5 : The amphibians and reptiles . Revised by Franz Werner.
    • Second volume: Die Kriechtiere (scale reptiles) . 601 pages with 113 illustrations in the text, 19 colored and 18 black plates, 28 double plates based on photographs and 2 map supplements.
  • Volume 6 : The Birds . Revised by William Marshall . Completed by F. Hempelmann and O. zur Strassen.
    • First volume: Flat-breasted birds - diving birds - penguin birds - petrels - storks - geese birds - birds of prey . 500 pages with 100 illustrations in the text, 36 plates and 15 plates based on photographs.
  • Volume 7 : The Birds . Revised by William Marshall. Completed by F. Hempelmann and O. zur Strassen.
    • Second volume: cocktails - chicken birds - crane birds - plover birds - cuckoo birds (cuckoos) . 495 pages with 83 illustrations in the text and 39 plates and 11 plates based on photographs.
  • Volume 8 : The Birds . Revised by William Marshall. Completed by F. Hempelmann and O. zur Strassen.
    • Third volume: cuckoo birds (parrots) - corvids . 473 pages with 85 illustrations in the text, 32 plates and 8 plates based on photographs.
  • Volume 9 : The Birds . Revised by William Marshall. Completed by F. Hempelmann and O. zur Strassen.
    • Fourth volume: passerine birds . 579 pages with 136 illustrations in the text, 27 colored and 13 black panels, 9 double panels based on photographs, 2 panels "Eggs" and 3 card inserts.
  • Volume 10 : The Mammals . Revised by Ludwig Heck.
    • First volume: Monotremes - Marsupials - Insectivores - Flutter animals - Aardvark - Pangolin - Xenarthra . 580 pages with 100 illustrations in the text and 30 plates as well as 21 plates based on photographs.
  • Volume 11 : The Mammals . Revised by Ludwig Heck and Max Hilzheimer.
    • Volume two: Rodents - Seals . 654 pages with 94 illustrations based on photographs on 20 double panels, 30 illustrations in the text, 15 colored and 4 black panels.
  • Volume 12 : The Mammals . Revised by Ludwig Heck and Max Hilzheimer.
    • Third volume: Predators - whales - proboscis - sirens - hyrax - odd-toed ungulates . 722 pages with 146 illustrations after photographs on 25 double plates, 52 illustrations in the text, 17 colored and 4 black plates.
  • Volume 13 : The Mammals . Revised by Max Hilzheimer and Ludwig Heck.
    • Fourth volume: Artifacts - Demons - Monkeys . 721 pages with 204 illustrations based on photographs on 26 double panels, 86 illustrations in the text, 23 colored and 4 black panels and 4 map inserts.

During the Second World War , abridged public and school editions were published, as well as a completely new edition in four volumes (1942) and a multi-volume field post edition , of which only the first volume appeared (1945), by Walter Rammner .

From around 1950 onwards, many single-volume arrangements with the "most popular" animals and original drawings appeared . In 1953, Adolf Meyer-Abich published a new edition of Brehms Tierleben in twelve volumes with 55 color plates and around 360 drawings for Hamburg-based Germany Standard Verlag , based on the second and last original edition.

In 1981 Theo Jahn published the large-format Brehms Neue Tierzyklopädie in twelve volumes with around 5,000 large color photos for Prisma-Verlag, Gütersloh ; the texts are based on the second, revised edition of Brehms Tierleben. Four volumes each are dedicated to mammals and birds, one each to reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.

A selected volume by Roger Willemsen was published in 2006 with drawings by Klaus Ensikat .

The New Brehm Library

In 1948, the pastor and biologist Otto Kleinschmidt , who was committed to natural history, took over Brehm's legacy by founding the book series Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei (NBB), which was published by A. Ziemsen Verlag in Wittenberg Lutherstadt. With his concept - the volumes were equipped with many pictures and descriptive text - the NBB took up Alfred Brehm's intention of the folk education commission. Gradually the series grew into an increasingly scientifically oriented series of monographs. The target group was no longer just lay people and hobby biologists, but also students and scientists. In 1992 the book series became the property of Westarp Wissenschaften-Verlagsgesellschaft mbH (Hohenwarsleben near Magdeburg) and as of 2008 it had a volume of 600 monographs.

Digital library

The Berlin publisher Directmedia Publishing digitized the colored edition of the second, revised and increased edition in ten volumes from 1876–1879 for the digital library series and published the entire text and image inventory on CD-ROM (volume 76).

"Brehm's lost animal life"

2007 appeared in Zweitausendeins the band Brehm's lost wildlife Hanna Zeckau and Carsten Aermes which describes 196 meantime extinct birds and mammals in diction Brehm and other contemporary zoologists and added to the biological knowledge at the time of publication, the Brehm still not quite 150 years ago as occurring had described. The authors produced the illustrations mainly using original preparations.

See also


  • Heinz Sarkowski: The Bibliographical Institute. Publishing history and bibliography 1826-1976. Bibliographical Institute, Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1976.
  • Andreas Schulze: "Instruction and entertainment" · Brehm's animal life in the field of tension between empiricism and fiction. Herbert Utz Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-8316-0454-8 .
  • Otto Kleinschmidt : From AE Brehm's diaries. (= Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei. Volume 28). 3. Edition. Westarp Sciences, Hohenwarsleben 2002, ISBN 3-89432-521-6 .
  • Otto Kleinschmidt : The magic of Brehm's animal life. (= Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei. Volume 20). 3. Edition. Westarp Sciences, Hohenwarsleben 2002, ISBN 3-89432-515-1 .

Web links

Wikisource: Brehms Tierleben  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Brehms Tierleben  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. ^ Sarkowski 1976: 232
  2. Sarkowski 1976: 130
  3. Sarkowski 1976: 262
  4. Hanna Zeckau and Carsten Aermes: Brehms lost animal life - illustrated lexicon of extinct birds and mammals , original edition. With a foreword by Professor Josef H. Reichholf , WWF . Zweiausendeins , Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-86150-794-9 . 196 pictures, 70 of them plates in 4-color printing. 3 overview maps. 261 pages. Thread stitching. Linen ( dnb info online )