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May Be Good for Children

Rational thinking comes in stages and may be fed by good tales and other works of artistic imagination, it is held by Albert Einstein and Rudolf Steiner, originator of Waldorf Education. Appropriate folk tales help in laying a groundwork for coming intellectual attainments, due to the very good ideas embedded in the tales, dressed in various images and actions. They are figures to go with for a spell. It is much of the methodology of the world-wide Waldorf Education movement.

Nice imagery and tales may be on fit "wavelengths" for young folks. Telling suitabel tales can be a fit and nice way of developing their minds on the developing minds' own terms and can lay the groundwork for later intellectual achievements. Parent who care about helping their children to cope better, could nurture the mind within by telling entertaining stories well, stories with a deeper meaning too. In this way many will be nurtured or fed on their own inherent terms or premises. Ideas may be got in tales, so that the ideas "baked" into them may be digested a bit. Much and good development can be had from it, and may even serve the young ones well.

Well "garnished" within costly folk tales are instigations to enterprises and venturing into the world a bit too. A little boldness may be helped up through the finest tales of folk arts.

Maybe we could learn something from fairy tales, for there may be an open-ended string of ideas of attainments to catch, if we accept these premises. And contrary to that, it may not serve a child or youngster at all to force rational thinking (intellectual thinking) on them - not in the long run development of the human.

Andrew and Leonora Lang's Many Fairy Books

A large part of these tales are selected from the series of twelve fairy books, The Langs' Fairy Books. They are also known as Andrew Lang's "Coloured" Fairy Books or Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colours, and contain 798 stories. They were published from 1889 and onwards.

Scottish Andrew Lang (1844–1912), a Scots poet, novelist, and literary critic. He edited the first books in the series and wrote prefaces to the books, and his wife did much of the work. Leonora Blanche Lang (née Alleyne) was known to friends and family as Nora. A daughter of a plantation owner in Barbados. she and a team of other writers, mostly women, did a large part of the translating and retelling of the actual stories in English. This is acknowledged in the prefaces. Leonora started to edit the series in the 1890s. The Lilac Fairy book was published in her name.

The original tales were adapted to Victorian and Edwardian norms of propriety at the time, periods with large differences between the wealthy and the poor, inventions, and rising social status for women. The Victorian era ended in 1901, and the Edwardian era started that year. Duing the Victorian era, between "1780 and 1850 the English ceased to be one of the most aggressive, brutal, rowdy, outspoken, riotous, cruel and bloodthirsty nations in the world and became one of the most inhibited, polite, orderly, tender-minded, prudish and hypocritical," writes the historian Harold Perkins. (WP, "Victorian era"). (See also "Edwardian era")

May a polite veneer go together with hypocricy"? It may not pay all at once to seek to find out, if it is so. So much for Victorian snubness -

Very Popular, Inspired Others Too

The Langs did not collect any fairy tales from oral primary sources; they collected tales from a large variety of sources. "These collections have been immensely influential; the Langs gave many of the tales their first appearance in English. Andrew selected the tales for the first four books, while Nora took over the series thereafter. She and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories." (WP, "Andrew Lang's Fairy Tales")

Some of Lang's collected stories were included without any references to sources, or good source references. Besides, the collections were meant for children, so material that was considered improper or offensive was removed or edited out, as Lang explained in his prefaces. (Ib.)

The series was immensely popular and its influence great. Among other things it influenced English Fairy Tales (1890) and More English Fairy Tales (1894) by Joseph Jacobs; collections of Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith; and "Tree Books" by Clifton Johnson, who created a series named for trees: The Oak Tree Fairy (1905), The Birch Tree Fairy Book (1906), The Elm Tree Fairy Book (1908), and The Fir Tree Fairy Book (1912). He followed up with a fifteen volume series of Bedtime Wonder Tales. (WP, Ib.; "Clifton Johnson (author)")

Often used symbols

AT (from the first letters of the catalogue authors Aarne and Thomson), stands for the allotted number in the international catalogue of types of tales, The Types of International Folktales

ATU stand for the revised numbers in that catalogue, edited by Hans-Jörg Uther (2004).

ML stands for Migratory Legends and refers to types of legends circulated among peoples or places.

Motifs are alphabetically arranged in Stith Thomson's Motif-index of Folk-literature. The groups in it are given a letter followed by a number. Thus, Motiv X and Motiv J are two such groups. (below)

In some cases, there are neither any synopsis nor references to types, motifs or sources. In other cases a synopsis is all that is presented; in still other cases sources are given, but not type or motif numbers, and so on.

The Baby of Seagulls

Retold from the medieval legend "Saint Keneth of the Gulls" in Brown 1900, 30-39. The saint is known as Cenydd in Welsh. (Wikipedia, "Cenydd")

[The tale]

The Senseless Weavers

A part of a Pashtun tale (Afghanistan), in The Orange Fairy Book, credited Andrew Lang, 1906.

[The tale]

The Milkmaid and Her Pail

ATU 1430. Ancient tales of this type exist in the East, and Western variants are found from the 14th Century in Catalonia. in the 14th century. It is a cautionary fable. "Handle with care - dreams, plans and the present well together."

The tale is one of the earliest works of prose in Castilian Spanish, where a woman on the way to market who starts to speculate on the consequences of investing the sale of her wares in eggs and breeding chickens from them. In the French version the woman has become a milkmaid. (See WP, "The milkmaid and her pail". The story is included in James Baldwin 1995.

[The fable]


AT 2033, 2010 I A, 20.C. MOTIFS: Z.43.3 [Nut hits cock on head, etc.]; Z.53 [Animals with queer names]; J.1810 [Physical phenomena misunderstood]; 8.296 [Animals go a-journeying].

This is the well-known version of Type 2033, and was recovered by Jacobs from Australia. There are Scottish and Danish versions, and one American. (Briggs 1991 A, 472)

[The folktale]

The Little Red Hen

A little red hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from other farmyard animals to plant it, but in vain.

At each later stage - harvest, threshing, milling the wheat into flour, and baking the flour into bread - the hen asks for help from these animals again, but gets none.

At last, the hen has made bread out of the wheat and asks who will help her eat the bread. Now all the other animals are eager to help her eat the bread. But she says that since none of them helped her with her work, she and her chickens will eat the bread.

[The folktale]

The Town Doctor's Diagnosis

Unsourced so far. Compare "We all make mistakes" and real life mishap: Doctor allegedly declared a man dead - but in vain --- Woman found alive in hospital morgue --- Doctors Pronounce Living Man Dead

[The story]

The Abbot, the Lion and the Donkey

A medieval legend translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell as "St. Jerome and the Lion and the Donkey". Her source: Vita Divi Hieronymi. (Migne, P.L. XXII. c. 209 ff.) Waddell's translation: London: Constable, 1934 (first edition). This version is a retelling.

"Be kind to animals," is half of what the tale is about, "- and they may amaze you," is there too. And "- one way or the other" might also be wise to reckon with. For good or for bad or some other way perhaps, goes into the reckoning toward "Let us not be fools."

[The legend]

The Mouse and the Sausage

ATU 85, "The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage." In this variant to the tale-type, a mouse (chicken) and sausage live together. While the mouse goes to church on Sunday, the sausage cooks their dinner. One Sunday they change roles, and the mouse is scalded to death when it tries to flavor the soup. In Mabie, Hale and Forbush, 1927, 50-51.

[The tale]

The Weasel and the Fox

Adapted from a Native American tale.

[The tale]

Simple-hearted Leopold

In this version, a tale from India, "Wali Dad", has been planted in Scandinavian soil with several changes of names and places. It runs like "The Story of Wali Dad the Simple-Hearted" in The Brown Fairy Book (1904, 315-27), ), as edited by Andrew Lang.

[The folktale]

A White Duck

Abridged and retold from the Russian fairy tale "The White Duck", collected by Alexander Afanasyev. Andrew Lang included an English translation of it in The Yellow Fairy Book, 1906, 155-60.

[The folktale]

The Buggane and the Lazy Wife

A tale from the Isle of Man, Manx. "The Buggane of Glen Meay Waterfall", in Sophia Morrison's Manx Fairy Tales (London: David Nutt, 1911, 8-14).

As tradition would have it, a buggane on Man is a shape-shifting water-spirit; almost always lives near a waterfall; and most often appears in the form of a horse or a calf. But sometimes it appears as half human, with long hair, teeth and nails.

Its function in this tale is to give lazy people a scare. Hopefully that improves some of their ways, and thus it may function as a woman-improver. But maybe we should not count on it.

Be industrious, or you may be scared a lot.

[The folktale]

Fairy Bakers

From Guernsey. In MacCulloch 1903, 21423. This is a tale about household spirits who rarely make themselves visible to humans who live the house. So long as no attempt is made to pry into their secrets, the spirits can be kind to the honest and industrious ones that live in the house, according to a traditional folk belief on the island.

[The folktale]

The Ill Princess

Reworked from parts of a Guernsney tale; a version by Miss E. Chepmell. The original tale is "The Sick Princess and the Wizards" in MacCulloch 1903, 357-58.

[The folktale]

The Clever Weaver

From Contes Arméniens by Frédéric Macler. In The Olive Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang, 1907.

[The folktale]

The Rat-catcher

This version of the legend "Pied Piper of Hameln" is by the French folklorist, poet and professor Charles Marelles (1827 - after 1903). In their Red Fairy Book (London and New York: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1890, pp. 208-14), the Langs made use of a translation of the legend from Charles Marelle, "Le preneur de rats," Affenschwanz, et cetera: Variantes orales de contes populaires français et étrangers (Braunschweig: George Westermann, 1888) according to D. L. Ashliman. Ashliman has gathered similar tales and legends from other towns as well and published them on a resource page. [D. L. Ashiman page]

The brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm included "The Children of Hameln" as no. 245 in later editions of their collection of German legends. They drew on eleven sources to get the tale they published in their collection.

An article on the legend and facets of its history is at WP, "Pied Piper of Hamelin").

[The legend]

The Cat Who Saved a Little Princess

Icelandic. Adapted.

[The folktale]

The Ox of Straw

Cossack folktale, in Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales by Robert Nisbet Bain (New ed. London: A. H. Bullen, 1902, 134-41).

[The folktale]

Peter Klaus

While looking for an escaped goat a German goatherd from a fictional village named Sittendorf is led to where others are playing games in the woods. After tasting their wine, he falls asleep and wakes up twenty years later.

"Peter Klaus" is also known as "Peter Klaus the Goatherd." It is Der Ziegenhirt, by Johann Karl Christoph Nachtigal (1753-1819), and published in his Volks-Sagen (Bremen: Friedrich Wilmans, 1800, 153-58) written under the pseudonym "Otmar". To the degree it is a literary tale by Nachtigal, or a folk tale reworked by him more or less, it is well composed.

The story was part of the inspiration for American writer Washington Irving's 1819 short story "Rip Van Winkle". Legends of men who fall asleep in the mountains and awaken decades or even centuries later are very old, but the immediate source of "Rip Van Winkle," is a tale of the Kyffhäusen mountain that is sometimes told of Peter Klaus the goatherd, and sometimes of Frederick Barbarossa. (Rugoff 1949, 346)

The tale is retold by James Baldwin 1905, 225-35. It is, further, in Rugoff 1949, 371-73 and in Roscoe 1826, 55-60.

[The tale]


Retold from Sir Edgar MacCulloch's Guernsey Folk Lore, London, 1903, 433-36. The legend was earlier published in supplement to the Illustrated News, February 7th, 1874.

[The tale]

The Heart of a Monkey

AT 91, The Heart of a Monkey.

A Swahili fairy tale (Edward Steere, Swahili Tales, as Told by Natives of Zanzibar, London: Bell and Daldy, 1870, 3-9.). Andrew Lang included it in The Lilac Fairy Book (1910, 42-54).

A monkey and a shark became friends of a sort until the shark said he wanted the monkey's heart. The monkey said it was a pity, because if he had known, he could have brought his heart, but as it was, he had left it behind.

The shark, deceived, brought him back to get it. The monkey instantly jumped up into the tree and was not to be lured back down. He told the shark a story of a washerman's donkey, which was twice persuaded to meet with a lion, and so lost its life the second time - and that the monkey was not a washerman's donkey.

An earlier version of this tale, with a crocodile instead of a shark, serves as the frame tale for the fourth book of the Panchatantra. In this version it is the crocodile's wife who, after enjoying the figs given by the monkey to her husband, desires to eat the monkey heart.

[The folktale]

Belle and the Beast

ATU 425C, Beauty and the Beast.

La Belle et la Bête is written by the French novelist Madame de Villeneuve (Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve) and was first published in 1740. Her lengthy version was abridged, rewritten, and published - first by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756 or 57, and by the Langs in the Blue Fairy Book in 1889, to produce the version(s) most commonly retold. This online version is abridged too.

The name Belle is a girl's name of Italian origin meaning "beautiful". The name Belle is a girl's name of French origin meaning "beautiful".

SYNOPSIS: A merchant sets out on a journey, loses his way and stays overnight in a deserted castle, where he breaks off a rose. An (invisible) animal demands that the man return or send a substitute. The youngest daughter meets her father's obligation but refuses to marry the (ugly) animal, who treats her kindly. After some time she sees her father is ill, and is allowed to visit him. When she returns to the animal, it is near death. Then she tends him and disenchants a prince from his animal shape, and they marry well.

Beauty and the Beast is influenced by earlier stories. They include "Cupid and Psyche" from The Golden Ass in the 2nd century CE, and the somewhat outspoken Italian tale "The Pig King" published by Straparola in The Facetious Nights of Straparola. Variants of Beauty and the Beast are also known across Europe. (See Tatar 1999, 25-49 etc.)

Researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon hold the story originated around 4,000 years ago. (WP, "Beauty and the Beast")

[The fairy tale]

Little Thumb

327B The Brothers and the Ogre (previously The Dwarf and the Giant). (AT 327B, The small boy defeats the ogre).

Little Thumb, or Hop-o'-My-Thumb (Hop-on-My-Thumb), and Hop o' My Thumb, is also known as Little Thumbling, or Little Poucet (French: Le petit Poucet). It is one of the eight fairytales published by Charles Perrault (1697).

The little boy called Little Thumb (etc.) is the youngest of seven children in a poor woodcutter's family - quite small, but clever. When the children are abandoned by their parents, he comes up with several means to save his life and the lives of his brothers. (See WP, "Hop-o'-My-Thumb" for more background information)

[The tale]

The Hunchbacks and the Fairies

AT 503, The Gifts of the Little People.

A hunchback takes part in a dance of the little people (elves, fairies, dwarfs), and sings their song. As a reward they remove his hump. Another hunchback hears of it and wants the same healing, but he fails in reciting the lyrics to their liking, and the little people add the hump of the other man to his back.

This version. Sophia Morrison: Manx Fairy Tales, 1911, 56-61. D. L. Ashliman has gathered fourteen tales of this type on a page.

[The folktale]

Jack and the Beanstalk

ATU 328, The Boy Who Stole Ogre's Treasure.

"Jack and the Beanstalk" is the best known of the "Jack tales", which is a series of stories featuring a Cornish and English heroic character, Jack. In this tale, Jack causes the giant he is up against, to fall to his death, and Jack and his mother live happily ever after with the riches Jack got.

The original story portrays a "hero" gaining the sympathy of a man's wife, hiding in his house, robbing, and finally killing him. Joseph Jacobs rewrote the tale for his English Fairy Tales (1890). A certain justification of Jacks unscrupulous actions is found in some versions.

Researchers at the universities in Durham and Lisbon maintain the story originated more than 5,000 years ago. (WP, "Jack and the Beanstalk")

[The folktale]

The Satin Surgeon

From ◦Le Cabinet des féees, a collection of fairy tales and other tales in 41-volumes, as compiled by Charles-Joseph de Mayer. The Satin Surgeon was included in The Olive Fairy Book (1907, 198-210) by the Langs. The present version is abridged from the Langs' translation.

[The tale]

A Journey Through Sweden

Based on a Native American tale.

[The folktale]

The Maiden from the Sea

"The Elf Maiden" is a Lapp fairy tale. The Langs included it in The Brown Fairy Book (Andrew Lang 1904, 190-96)

[The folktale]

The Thankful Minister

A tale from Punjab called "The Thanksgiving of the Wazir" in The Olive Fairy Book (1907, 103-7) by the Langs

[The folktale]

Father Grumbler

"Father Grumbler" is in The Brown Fairy Book (1916, 77-87) by the Langs.

[The folktale]

The Wizard's Daughter as Helper

From Brittany, "The Boy Who Served the Fairies", in Spence 1917, 88-95.

If you need to learn to know a man, then travel with him! - Swedish proverb (Holm 1975, 265)

[The folktale]

The Clever Cat

African, adapted from Andrew Lang's The Orange Fairy Book, 1906, 126-41.

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. / If turnips were watches, I'd wear one by my side" is a British nursery rhyme. There is a lesson in it. It suggests that if wishing could make things happen, then even the most destitute people would have everything they wanted. (The Roud Folk Song Index No. 20004).

The first recognisable ancestor of the rhyme was printed in 1605: "If wishes were thrushes beggars would eat birds." (Wikipedia, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride")

[The folktale]

The Turtle and His Bride

Source: Bureau of Ethnology, in Andrew Lang, ed, 1904: The Brown Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co., p. 106-14.

[The folktale]

The Magic Rock

A tale from Brittany. In Masson 1929: 141-150.

[The folktale]

The Brownie in the Lake

A French tale in The Lilac Fairy Book by the Langs.

[The folktale]

The Child Who Came from an Egg

The Child who came from an Egg or The Egg-Born Princess is an Estonian fairy tale. Andrew Lang included it as "The Child who came from an Egg" in The Violet Fairy Book. He based his version on a German translation in Estnische Märchen.

A synopsis is in Wikipedia, "The Child who came from an Egg".

[The folktale]

The Farmer and the Moneylender

Included in Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1912). He had it from Steel and Temple 1884, 215-18.

[The folktale]

The Quagmire Dog

From Spence 1917 102-5, "The Youdic."

[The folktale]


Folktale notes, fairy tales comments, folk-tale notes, literature 

The books by Aarne, Ashliman (1987), Hodne, and Uther show how folk tales are grouped into types of tales. Types of tales often contain several motifs, such as Thompson shows. Most of the other books, for example the work by Donald Haase, give comprehensive or higher-level folklore data.


Aarne, Antti. 1961. The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography. Translated and Enlarged by Stith Thompson. 2nd rev. ed. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia / FF Communications.

Alexander, Bryan. 2011. The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. Oxford: Praeger.

Ashliman, D. L. 2006. Fairy Lore: A Handbook. London: Greenwood Press.

Ashliman, D. L. 1987. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. New York: Greenwood Press.

Baldwin, James, reteller. 1895. Fairy Stories and Fables. New York: American Book Company.

Bar-Itzhak Haya, ed. 2013. Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore Traditions. London: M. E. Sharpe.

Briggs, Katharine M. 1991. A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language Incorporating the F. J. Norton Collection.. Part A, Folk Narratives, Vols. I and II - Part B, Folk Legends, Vols. I and II. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Brown, Abbie Farwell. 1900. The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co.

Haase, Donald, ed. 2008. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, Vols 1–3. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Hodne, Ørnulf. 1984. The Types of the Norwegian Folktale. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget.

Holm, Pelle. 1975. Ordspråk och talesätt. [Proverbs and Sayings] Stockholm: Bonniers.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Blue Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1889.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Red Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1890.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Green Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1892

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Yellow Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1894.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Pink Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1897.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Grey Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1900.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Violet Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1901.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Crimson Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1903.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Brown Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1904.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Orange Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1906.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Olive Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1907.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Lilac Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1910.

Mabie, Hamilton W, Edward E. Hale, William B. Forbush. 1927. Childhood Favourites and Fairy Stories. New York: The University Society Inc.

MacCulloch, Edgar: Guernsey Folk Lore: A Collection of Popular Superstitions, Legendary Tales, Peculiar Customs, Proverbs, Weather Sayings, etc., of the People of that Island. London: Elliot Stock, 1903.

Masson, Elsie. 1929. Folk Tales of Brittany. Ed. Amena Pendleton. Philadelphia: Macrae Smith, 1929.

Sherman, Josepha, ed. 2011. Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Mythology and Folklore, Vols 1–3. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference.

Spence, Lewis. 1917. Legends and Romances of Brittany. New York: Frederick A. Stokes.

Steel, Flora Annie, and Sir Richard Carnac Temple. 1884. Wide Awake Stories: A Collection of Tales Told by Little Children between Sunset and Sunrise in the Panjab and Kashmir. London: Trübner and Co.

Tatar, Maria, ed. 1999. The Classic Fairy Tales: Texts. Criticism. London: W. W. Norton.

Thompson, Stith. 1955-1958. Motif-index of Folk-literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-books, and Local Legends. Revised and enlarged ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Uther, Hans-Jörg. 2004. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Vols 1–3. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica.

Waddell, Helen. Beasts and Saints. Pook Press, 2013. (The original translation: London: Constable, 1934.) -- Stories of saints and beasts, from the end of the fourth to the end of the twelfth century, translated from the original Latin.

WP. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Zipes, Jack, ed. 2002. The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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