A short history of The Thief and the Cobbler: it was begun in the sixties and loosely based on both Errol Le Cain’s Aladdin and the Sufi stories of the character Mulla Nasrudin, some of which Richard Williams illustrated in early editions.
In the mid sixties Williams apparently got interested in the teachings of Sufiism, a middle eastern philosophy from the middle ages, and around 1966, he collaborated with Idries Shah on a series of books. Shah had written The Sufis, the seminal work on Sufiism and was now collecting the Folk tales about the famous Mulla Nasrudin. Nasrudin, who is known throughout the middle east and Russia, combines the figures of teacher and fool, sometimes based on the idea, that, if you make a preposterous statement to your pupil, the pupil, by contradicting you, will have to reason his own way to the truth.
All illustrations were drawd by Richard Williams
Source: The Thief: Nasrudin