Shrek! is a humorous fantasy book published in 1990 by American book writer and cartoonist William Steig, about a repugnant and monstrous green creature who leaves home to see the world and ends up saving a princess.[3] The name "Shrek" is the romanization of the Yiddish word שרעק, corresponding to German Schreck and meaning "fear" or "fright".

First edition cover
AuthorWilliam Steig
IllustratorWilliam Steig
Cover artistWilliam Steig
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
October 17, 1990[1]
Media typePrint (Paperback and Hardcover)
LC ClassPZ7.S8177 Sh 1990[2]

The book served as the basis for the first Shrek movie and the popular Shrek film series over a decade after its publication.


Shrek is a repugnant, green-skinned, fire-breathing, seemingly indestructible monster who enjoys causing misery with his repulsiveness. After his parents decide that he has come of age, he is (literally) kicked out of their swamp. Shrek soon encounters a witch, who, in exchange for his rare specimens of lice, reads his fortune: using the magic words "Apple Strudel", he will meet a donkey who will take him to a castle, where he will battle a knight and marry a princess who is even uglier than he.

Excitedly on his way, Shrek encounters a scything peasant from whom he steals and eats his pheasant, counters an attack from thunder, lightning and rain by eating lightning's fiercest bolt, and knocks out a dragon with his fiery breath. However, he is disturbed by a dream in which he is helpless to being hugged and kissed by a multitude of children. Awakening, he meets the donkey, who takes him to the Nutty Knight of Crazy Castle.

The Knight is offended by Shrek's demands to enter the castle and attempts to smite him, to which Shrek responds with a fire blast that sends him into the moat. Upon entering the castle, Shrek is terrified when he appears to be surrounded by an army of similarly hideous creatures, but regains his resolve upon discovering that he is in the hall of mirrors. He finally meets the princess; mutually smitten by their shared ugliness, they marry and live "horribly ever after, scaring the socks off all who fell afoul of them".



Steven Spielberg acquired the rights for the book in 1991, planning to produce a traditionally animated film based on the book. However, around the time DreamWorks was founded, producer John H. Williams brought the book to DreamWorks, and co founder Jeffrey Katzenberg was interested in the concept. As a result, DreamWorks ended up acquiring the rights for the book in 1995, and Katzenberg quickly put the film in active development. Chris Farley was originally cast to voice the titular character, Steve Martin was cast to voice Donkey, and Janeane Garofalo was cast to voice Princess Fiona. After Farley's death in December 1997, the studio rewrote the script and cast Mike Myers to replace Farley and Eddie Murphy was cast as Donkey to replace Martin. Garofalo was fired for unknown reasons.[citation needed]

Shrek was released on May 18, 2001, starring the voices of Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow. The film was a critical and commercial success and won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was followed by three sequels: Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek the Third (2007), and Shrek Forever After (2010) with a reboot currently in development.

The first film was adapted into a Broadway musical called Shrek The Musical in 2008.

Spin offs of the Shrek film series include the holiday specials Shrek the Halls (November 2007) and Scared Shrekless (October 2010); a musical adaptation (2008); and the film Puss in Boots (October 2011), a spin off prequel starring the franchise's character of the same name.


  1. ^ Day, Patrick Kevin (May 20, 2010). "Shrek – Hollywood Star Walk". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 23, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  2. ^ "Shrek!" (first edition). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress ( Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  3. ^ Shrek! Archived 2010-08-06 at the Wayback Machine. Macmillan. 2008. Retrieved August 14, 2010.