On this day in 1743, Swiss author Johann David Wyss was born. Best known for his 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, Wyss was also a pastor.
Inspired by Daniel Defoe's story Robinson Crusoe (about a man who is shipwrecked and marooned on a small tropical island), Wyss (a father of 4) always wanted to write a story from which his own children would learn. He wanted to teach them about family values, good husbandry, and the importance of the world's natural resources.
Wyss often read Robinson Crusoe to his children - but unlike Crusoe, his novel involved an entire family who is shipwrecked in the East Indies. In fact as an adult, one of his sons Johann Rudolf Wyss (also an author and a professor) edited & published his father's classic tale!
Disney's 1960 adaptation of the Wyss novel was not the first film produced about the shipwrecked family. RKO released a Swiss Family Robinson in 1940.
Interesting to note that these adaptations give the family the surname "Robinson," - when in actuality the "Robinson" of Wyss's title refers to his inspiration ... Robinson Crusoe!
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