A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 10 – The Tinder Box to The Enchanted Quill


We like to think that fairy tales typically have happy endings or so we’re told. However, as with everything in life, this isn’t always the case. And you may notice that a few of them end very horribly for the protagonist. “The Rose Tree,” “Godfather Death,” and “The Shadow” that we covered so far don’t end happily. Since the first has a kid getting murdered and cannibalized. The second has the protagonist trying to cheat Death for a big payout, ending like you’d expect. The third has the protagonist deceived and murdered by his Shadow. Anyway, in this installment, I bring you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, is a Hans Christen Andersen tale involving a tinder box. Second, we come to some Grimm tales involving talking animals and inanimate objects, a mysterious dwarf, and a juniper tree. Second, is an Italian take on Little Red Riding Hood except that you want the wolf to devour her. Third, is an African tale about a singing tortoise. And lastly, we get a German tale of an enchanted quill that can fufill whatever a person desires.

91. The Tinder Box


Hans Christen Andersen’s The Tinder Box is about a soldier who finds a wooden box he uses to summon treasure carrying dogs. It’s basically a variant of Aladdin.

From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Written by Hans Christen Andersen. It’s essentially Denmark’s version of Aladdin despite it being inspired by a Scandinavian folk tale.
Best Known Version: There’s only one version.
Synopsis: A soldier comes upon a witch who tells him how to get lots of money. If he does her a favor of bringing her a tinder box that she mistakenly left in a passageway under an old oak tree. The soldier goes down to find 3 enormous dogs each guarding a chest of copper coins, a chest of silver coins, and a chest of gold coins. When he brings up some gold, he remembers the tinder box and goes to get it. But the witch won’t tell him what’s so special about it, even when the soldier threatens to cut her head off. So the soldier basically decapitates her. It’s not until later that he accidentally discovers he could use the tinder box to summon the dogs who can bring him more money.

Eventually, the soldier falls in love with a princess. But since a prophecy foretold that she’ll marry a common soldier, the king and queen are having none of that so the lock their daughter away in a Copper Palace at all times. So the soldier uses the tinder box to summon a dog to bring the princess to him. The king and queen eventually figure out that someone kidnapped their daughter and have someone follow the dog. When they find the house, they mark it with chalk. When the dog sees the chalk mark, it marks all the doors on that street. The queen makes a bag that she fills with flour with a small hole so there will be a flour trail they can follow. The dog doesn’t notice it. So the soldier is arrested and sentenced to death by hanging. However, he doesn’t have his tinder box so he sends a boy to his apartment to bring it to him. When hanging day comes, he requests one last smoke before using the tinder box to summon all 3 dogs. The dogs throw the judges and councilors so high in the air that they die when hitting the ground. The king is unmoved by this so the dogs do the same to him and the queen. The people proclaim the soldier king, he gets the princess out of her copper palace, and they marry.

Other Versions: Some versions don’t mention that after the dogs toss the King, Queen, and judges into the air that they don’t just die after hitting the ground, but also broken into pieces. One version has the king cheat the soldier out of his pay and the soldier retaliates by beating the princess and making her do chores every night.
Adaptations: Made into a ballet with costumes and scenery designed by Denmark’s Queen Margarethe II.
Why Forgotten: Having dogs devour the whole government because they didn’t let the main character be with the girl likes doesn’t endear this fairy tale to modern audiences.
Trivia: Was not favorably received upon its initial release.

92. The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage


The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage is a Grimm fairy tale about the aforementioned 3 moving in together and trading chores. It doesn’t go well.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A mouse, a bird, and a sausage decide to move in together. Things are all right for awhile. The bird flies to the forest for wood each morning. The mouse carries water, lights fires, and sets the table. While the sausage cooks by rolling around in the food (don’t ask). One day, the bird’s forest friends start making fun of him, calling him a poor sap claiming he does all the hard work while the others get to stay home and relax. The bird gets home and demands a more equitable chore system before they draw lots to determine who does what. The sausage is tasked with gathering wood but a dog gobbles it up in the forest. The mouse tries cooking but gets stuck while sliding through the vegetables and dies. While the bird has to gather water and light fires, resulting in the house catching fire as well as getting tangled into the bucket and pulled down the well that he drowns.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: For one, the tale features a sentient sausage which is just weird. Secondly, the moral of this story is to know one’s place. Also, it doesn’t end well.
Trivia: N/A

93. Cat and Mouse in Partnership


Cat and Mouse in Partnership is a Grimm fairy tale about cat and mouse roomies and a jar of fat. Tom and Jerry, it ain’t.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version of course.
Synopsis: A cat convinces a mouse to move in with him. For a time, all was well for the cross-species roommates. Until the mouse and a cat decide to put a fat jar aside for the lean months, storing it under an altar at a nearby church. But one day, the greedy cat decides to mosy on down the church and taste some of the fat, lying to the mouse about standing as a godparent at a kitty christening. He does this 3 times until the jar is empty. When the cold winds start blowing round their house, the mouse suggests that it’s time to break into the fat reserves. But when they get to the church, the jar is empty. The mouse figures it out and gets eaten by the cat.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: If you think this ends like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, you are sorely mistaken.
Trivia: N/A

94. Riffraff


Riffraff is a Grimm fairy tale of a couple of chickens and their friends pulling a prank on an innkeeper. And yes, they have a carriage pulled by a duck.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A rooster and a hen go carousing in a nutshell carriage pulled by a duck. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiking drunk pin and needle on their way to an inn. When they reach their destination, the innkeeper isn’t too keen on letting them stay since they look a bit rough. But he agrees once they offer the duck and the hen’s egg. The next morning, the rooster and the hen steal back the egg and eat it (cannibals), stick the pin in the innkeeper’s towel and the needle in his armchair, and fly away (not possible). Meanwhile, the duck scoots off into a brook. The innkeeper washes his face and gets a terrible scratch from the pin on the towel. When he sits on his armchair, the needle stabs him in the butt. He then swears never to let any “riffraff” stay at his inn like talking tailor tools and anthromorphized fowl.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: It’s a petty revenge tale with talking animals and sentient tailor tools.
Trivia: N/A

95. The Strange Feast
From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A blood sausage invites a liver sausage to her house for dinner. But when she arrives to the blood sausage’s house she sees a lot of strange things. A broom and shovel fight upstairs, a monkey has a head wound, and more. The liver sausage freaks out over all this. When she goes to the blood sausage’s rooms, she confides to her on what she’s seen. But the blood sausage brushes it all off before retreating to the kitchen to check on the meal. While the liver sausage is alone, she hears a voice: “Let me warn you, liver sausage, you’re in a bloody murderous trap. You’d better get out quickly if you value your life!” She runs out the door and onto the street. Turning back, she sees the blood sausage in the attic wielding a long, gleaming knife shouting, “If I had caught you, I would have had you!”

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Contains sentient sausages and attempted murder. Seriously, sausages trying to kill each other?
Trivia: N/A

96. Hurleburlebutz
From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: When a king gets lost in a forest, a white dwarf suddenly appears. He offers to help the king out of the woods in return for his youngest daughter. Desperate to get out of the deep, dark forest, the king agrees. The dwarf delivers the king to safety and reminds him he’ll be back in a week for his daughter. Now the king’s sad because the youngest is his favorite. But his daughters assure him not to worry since they’ll soon get rid of the dwarf. A week later, the daughters find an unsuspecting cowherd’s daughter, kit her out in pretty clothes, and tell her to go with the first person who comes to fetch her. That person’s a fox saying, “Sit down on my furry tail, Hurleburlebutz! Off to the forest!” Of they go, but when the fox asks the cowherd’s daughter to pick lice out of his fur, he realizes he got the wrong lady when she obliges. Back to the castle. A week later, the fox returns taking the gooseherd’s daughter into the forest, another attempted delousing, and wrong lady. So back to the castle again.

Realizing passing an insignificant peasant girl as his daughter won’t do, the king gives over his daughter to the fox who carries her into the forest. This time, when he demands a delousing, the princess replies, “I’m a king’s daughter and yet I must delouse a fox!” Realizing he got the right bride, the fox transforms into the dwarf. They live happily for awhile. Until one day when the dwarf says, “I’ve got to go away, but three white doves will soon come flying here. When they swoop down to the ground, catch the middle one. Once you’ve got it, cut off its head right away. But pay attention and make sure you’ve got the middle dove, or it’ll be disaster.” The doves come, the princess catches the middle one, hacks off its head and pooft! a handsome prince appears. Turns out, the white dwarf had been under a nasty fairy spell and this whole complicated charade was the only way to fix it.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The second part doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever.
Trivia: N/A

97. Uncle Wolf
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Italo Calvino in his Italian Folktales. It’s basically Little Red Riding Hood but you’re pretty much rooting for the Big Bad Wolf.
Best Known Version: The Calvino version, obviously.
Synopsis: The “little glutton” travels through the woods carrying a basket of pancakes, bread, and wine for Uncle Wolf. But the path is long and the girl can’t resist the goodies. So she replaces the pancakes with donkey shit, the loaf of bread with a stonemason’s lime, and the wine with dirty water. When Uncle Wolf loses his shit over the deception, the girl races back home, hiding in the corner of her bed. Uncle Wolf chases her down and declares, “Ahem, here I go!” After all, he’s got a reputation to defend. An expert in dealing with “greedy little girls” he swallows her whole.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: It’s not the Little Red Riding Hood story you want your kids to know about.
Trivia: N/A

98. The Singing Tortoise
From: Africa
Earliest Appearance: Oral tradition, I guess.
Best Known Version: N/A
Synopsis: A hunter finds a tortoise with a voice so enchanting that he takes the animal home with him. Unable to resist the impulse to broadcast the tortoise’s song, the village receives the hunter’s report with deep skepticism. And in an act of controlled passive-aggressive behavior for being taken out of its natural surroundings, the tortoise refuses to sing on command. Branded a liar talking nonsense and “fantastic tales,” the hunter gets publicly schooled by the chief.
Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Retold in a children’s book.
Why Forgotten: African fairy tales don’t get much attention.
Trivia: N/A

99. The Juniper Tree


The Juniper Tree is a Grimm fairy tale about a stepmother who murders her stepson and serves him for dinner. And no, I’m absolutely not kidding.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Brothers Grimm.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A mother dies in childbirth. Her husband remarries and the new wife really wants to get rid of her stepson. Offering an apple from the chest, the stepmother lures the boy then bam! She slams the chest’s lid so hard “so hard that the boy’s head flew off and fell into the chest with the apples.” To dispose the evidence, the stepmother chops up her stepson’s body into little pieces, cooks him up in a stew only Hannibal Lecter would love, and serves his remains to the boy’s father, who can’t get enough of this “tasty” dish. The rest of the boy’s body is buried under a juniper tree, comes back as a green and red-feathered bird with a gold band around its neck and an alluring song, and drops a millstone on the stepmother, killing her. He then returns into human form just in time to have dinner with his father and sister.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Made into a film in Iceland during the 1990s as well as an opera during the 1980s.
Why Forgotten: Contains child abuse, murder, and cannibalism.
Trivia: Mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkein’s “On Fairy Tales” as an example on the evils of censorship for children.

100. The Enchanted Quill
From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Written by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth in 1850.
Best Known Version: Schonwerth’s is the best known since it’s recently been rediscovered.
Synopsis: A man falls asleep on his horse while traveling as a horse begins grazing in a meadow. A crow flies down from a tree and pecks a horse so that it rears up suddenly and wakes up the rider. The rider asks why the crow did that. The crow replies that he’s been asleep for 3 years, which dawns on the man who notices his long beard. In return for acting as an alarm clock, the crow asks the man for one of his daughters, gives him a picture of himself, and flies off. When the man returns home, tells his 3 daughters about the crow and its requests, and shows them a picture. The older two daughters basically say, “No way!” The youngest takes the picture and goes to her room. The next day, the crow arrives in a resplendent horse-drawn carriage, exciting the daughters until the crow steps out that only the youngest invites him in. He asks all 3 sisters to visit his castle.

Apparently, they all hop in. But once they’re out of the dark, gloomy forest, they go through a lemon tree forest before arriving at a beautiful castle. After the two older sisters eavesdrop on the youngest having a conversation with a handsome young man, everything changes. The castle and carriage disappear while all 3 women find themselves under a fir tree. The crow then scolds from the branches: “Now only the youngest can save me. She must walk to the city in rags and accept whatever work she is offered.” The youngest does this and gets a job as a servant to some prince. But unlike Cinderella and Snow White in the Disney movies, she’s utterly incompetent at her job that her co-workers treat her like crap. Just as the girl cries in the bathroom, the crow appears, turns his wing, and says: “Pull out one of my feathers, and if you use it to write down a wish, the wish will come true.” She reluctantly plucks the feather, uses it as a pen, and writes down the names of the very finest dishes that appear in sparkling and glowing bowls. These please the prince and princess so much that they give her fine clothes to wear. But to her dismay, the girl ends up attracting 3 suitors, she writes down ways to make their lives hell, which eventually escalates into bodily punishments on them and her bosses. When the time comes, the crow arrives as a prince, picks up the girl, and they ride to his magnificent castle.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Mostly because the Grimms have a monopoly on German fairy tales that ones by others usually fall into obscurity.
Trivia: Was lost for over 150 years until 2015.

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 9 – Willie’s Lady to The Tale of Norna-Gest


Apparently, in fairy tales, kings have a tendency to give almost impossible challenges that make almost no sense. Sure, the reward may be a princess and perhaps half the kingdom should the winner be a guy. While the losers usually end up executed. Sometimes I wonder why these kings do this save for creating a fanciful plot. Though in some stories, it’s apparent the king wants the protagonist dead, sort some inheritance issue (though allowing a daughter to rule will basically solve everything on that one), or some curse lifted from their kids. Anyway, in this installment I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, are 2 English ballads about evil mothers-in-law and men held hostage as well as tales of a happy prince and a king on a golden river. Second, is a Grimm tale of 7 young goats and a big bad wolf. Third, we have a French story about a young woman with golden hair. After that, are some Hans Christen Andersen tales about a match girl, a shadow, and a tin soldier. Finally, we get to a medieval Icelandic saga about a man who just doesn’t seem to die.

81. Willie’s Lady
From: England
Earliest Appearance: Earliest known copy printed in 1783. Child Ballad #6. Collected by Francis Child. Said to be inspired by the birth of Hercules.
Best Known Version: The Child version.
Synopsis: Willie gets married. But his mom doesn’t approve of his bride that she curses her to die in childbirth. He tries bribing her, she refuses. At household sprite Belly Bird’s advice, he tricks her into thinking that the baby has been born. She falls into a rage and demands to know who undid all the things she did to prevent it. Willie undoes them all and a baby is born.

Other Versions: Found in several Scandinavian variants but sometimes the witch curses the woman or her house, the labor is delayed, and/or the woman dies in childbirth.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Cursing one’s daughter-in-law to die in childbirth has to be part of it. Seriously, who does that shit?
Trivia: Has been covered numerous times.

82. The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids


Based on Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids revolves around a big bad wolf trying to devour a goat family. He gets all the kids but one.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A nanny goat leaves her 7 kids home alone before venturing for food. She warns them not to open the door to anyone, especially not the Big Bad Wolf. Soon enough, after she leaves, the wolf tries getting in. He disguises himself as his mother but his gruff voice betrays him. The wolf leaves and returns a little later, using a sweet, light voice to impersonate their mother. At first the 7 kids really think it really is their mother, but then ask her to stick her paw in front of the window before noticing his big, black feet. They refuse to open the door and the wolf leaves again, this time going to the miller to whiten his paw in flour. He returns and fools the 7 kids because they see his white paw and think it’s their mother. The wolf jumps into the house and devours 6 of the 7 kids since the youngest hides in a large standing clock before he leaves. After his big meal, the wolf realizes he’s very, very tired. So the first thing he does is lie down against the tree and enjoy a good long nap.


Here the nanny goat leaves he kids at home before going out. Perhaps she should’ve locked the door for once.

When the nanny goat returns home, she finds her house a mess and her youngest kid hiding inside the clock. He tells her what happened and they decide to look for the wolf. They soon find him, still fast asleep, and the mother goat tells her youngest child to fetch a pair of scissors, a needle and some thread, with which they cut the wolf’s belly. The six goat kids jump out alive and well. The goats then fill the wolf’s belly with rocks and the mother sews it back up again. The goats hide and the wolf wakes up, feeling thirsty. He goes to the well but falls in and drowns under the rocks’ weight. The goat family lives happily ever after.

Other Versions: Some accounts have the kids ask the wolf to stick his paw in the crack of the door. Sometimes the wolf goes to the bakery instead of the miller. Also, in some versions, he goes to the river instead of the well.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, goats aren’t considered appealing animals in the US. Also, the wolf devours all but one of the goat kids.
Trivia: Very popular in Japan, Netherlands, Italy, France, and Russia.

83. Young Beichan


In the English Young Beichan, a guy’s thrown in prison in a faraway country. Don’t worry, his captor’s daughter will save him from the rats.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: Child Ballad #53. Collected by Francis Child.
Best Known Version: The Child version obviously.
Synopsis: A man is thrown into a dungeon in a far country. His captor’s daughter frees him and he pledges to marry her. On returning home, he’s forced to marry. She arrives in time to stop the wedding.
Other Versions: The names, identities, and location where they meet can vary a lot depending on the variant. Variants can be in Spanish, Norse, and Italian.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

84. The Fair One with the Golden Locks


The Fair One with the Golden Locks is a French fairy tale about a woman with long golden hair who falls for a prince’s servant sent to woo her. He then has to complete a series of impossible tasks.

From: France
Earliest Appearance: Written by Madame d’Aulnoy.
Best Known Version: The d’Aulnoy version obviously.
Synopsis: A beautiful daughter of the king called the Fair One with the Golden Locks. A nearby king who’s heard of her beauty begins a series of attempts to woo her, eventually sending his faithful servant Avenant and his dog. In his journey to the kingdom, Avenant saves many creatures promising to aid him if they could. Arriving at the princess’ kingdom, he asks for her hand for his master. She agrees but on the condition he complete a series of impossible tasks. Thanks to the animal assistance, Avenant completes the challenges. Upon returning the princess agreed to go with him. Although she falls in love with Avenant, he rebukes the idea out of loyalty to his king. Though the king and princess marry but he soon becomes jealous over her attachment to Avenant and seals him away in a tower. He then decides to use a vial of water that makes those who wash in it beautiful to better woo his bride. Unfortunately, a maid breaks the vial and has it replaced with a vial of poison, causing the king’s death. The now widowed queen frees Avenant, asks him to be king in his master’s place and he agrees.

Other Versions: Has translations by Andrew Lang under “Pretty Golden Locks” and Dinah M. Mulock Craik.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, the fact the heroine is called “Goldilocks” and the lack of staging a home invasion in a bear home may have something to do with it.
Trivia: Sometimes referred as “Goldilocks” though it’s best not to use the that for obvious reasons.

85. The Happy Prince
From: England.
Earliest Appearance: Written by Oscar Wilde.
Best Known Version: The Wilde version of course.
Synopsis: A swallow falls in love with a reed. After spending a life in luxury, a happy prince grows up knowing nothing of hardship and hardship. But once he sees it, he can’t abide seeing people in misery when he can sacrifice the precious jewels and metals he’s made of to help them out of poverty. Eventually the prince is turned into a statue who watches all misery outside the palace. But he can’t let the swallow go.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Made into a 2018 film with Rupert Everett.
Why Forgotten: It’s kind of a crazy tale and Wilde’s prose isn’t as well read as his plays.
Trivia: N/A

86. King of the Golden River


John Ruskin’s The King of the Golden River is about a young boy who tries to undo the damage caused by his brothers. Here he meets with some dwarf.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: Written by John Ruskin in 1841.
Best Known Version: There’s only one version.
Synopsis: A very old and strange man visits 3 brothers during a thunderstorm. Unfortunately, the elder 2 brothers mistreat the guy who’s actually “South-West Wind Esquire.” As revenge, he turns their once fertile valley into red sand. The rest revolves around the youngest undergoing a series of impossible tasks trying to undo the damage, particularly finding the source of the Golden River.
Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, the plot’s pretty complicated. Also, Ruskin wrote this for his future wife who was 12 at the time.
Trivia: N/A

87. The Little Match Girl


The Little Match Girl is a fairy tale by Hans Christen Andersen about a impoverished girl freezing on the streets who lights matches to escape from her wretched life. It’s basically tragedy porn.

From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845.
Best Known Version: There’s only one version.
Synopsis: On a gold New Year’s Eve, a little girl freezes barefoot outside. Since she didn’t sell any matches, she’s afraid to return home. For she’ll just receive a beating from an abusive father. She looks into a house window she’s sitting in front of and imagines how nice it would be to celebrate with a family. Huddling in a corner, she starts striking matches one by one. First, to give her warmth. Then to keep seeing beautiful images of warm fires, roast goose, Christmas trees, and light shows. She looks up and sees a shooting star, recalling what her grandma once told her that whenever a star streaks across the night sky someone goes to heaven. Striking another match, she sees her grandma and lights all her matches at once to keep her there. On New Year’s Day, those passing by find her frozen body huddled against a building and surrounded by dead matches, smiling. They’re filled with pity. But it doesn’t matter because the little match girl is now in heaven (uh, hello, it’s not).


Freezing to death, the little match girl lights her remaining matches to conjure images of things she may never enjoy. Seriously, this tale is depressing.

Other Versions: Often presented as a Christmas story.
Adaptations: Made into a Disney short and a Made-for-TV movie. Also has numerous retellings and adaptations.
Why Forgotten: It’s considered one of the saddest stories ever written since it’s just basically depressing tragedy porn. But at least she wasn’t among the women making the matches (who had it even worse).
Trivia: Featured in a Dutch theme park attraction (what the fuck?).

88. The Shadow


Hans Christen Andersen’s story The Shadow is about a man’s shadow coming to life and traveling the world to find his fortune. It doesn’t end well.

From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Written by Hans Christen Andersen in 1847.
Best Known Version: There’s only one version.
Synopsis: A Learned Man makes a voyage south from northern Europe. While sitting by the fire one evening, he amusedly observes his shadow dancing and imitating his movements in the flames’ light, thinking it would be funny as a creature with a will and mind of its own. To his surprise, the next morning, he wakes up to find his shadow disappeared overnight. But as new shadow slowly grows back from the tip of his toes, the Learned Man doesn’t give the incident a second thought and soon returns to his northern European home. Several years later, he hears a knock on the door one evening. It’s the shadow he lost years before during his journey now standing upon his doorstep in an almost completely human appearance. Intrigued, the Learned Man invites the Shadow inside before sitting down and discussing the latter’s experiences during his travels and how it came to human form. But during the conversation, the subject turns to the Learned Man’s unsuccessful writing career. The Learned Man values the good, true, and beautiful in the world as well as writes about it often. But public doesn’t give his work much interest. The Shadow declares that the Learned Man is too much of an idealist and that his view of humanity is flawed. While the Shadow claims that unlike his master, he understands the world and sees what it truly is and knows how evil some men really can be. They soon part ways once again.


As the Learned Man barely manages to survive, the Shadow prospers while traveling the world. And the Learned Man’s prospects will only get worse.

As the Learned Man barely manages to survive, the Shadow becomes quite rich. When the former becomes ill, the latter suggests they visit a health resort. And as long as the Learned Man pretends to be the Shadow’s shadow, he’ll pay for the trip. Absurd as it sounds, the Learned Man agrees and they set sail with the Shadow as his master. During the trip, the Shadow meets and woos a princess. When they get engaged, the Shadow asks the Learned Man to remain his shadow forever in exchange with a good life with them. The Learned Man refuses and threatens to reveal the truth to the princess. The Shadow has him arrested and ultimately executed as he and the princess live happily ever after.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Made into a ballet.
Why Forgotten: This tale’s message is that goodness doesn’t always triumph alone, especially when it’s not paired with common sense which the Learned Man doesn’t have.
Trivia: Was one of the first long texts to be translated into Esperanto.

89. The Steadfast Tin Soldier


In Hans Christen Andersen’s The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a one-legged soldier falls for a paper ballerina. Of course, he has to go through a lot of shit for her.

From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Written by Hans Christen Andersen in 1838.
Best Known Version: There’s only one version.
Synopsis: A one-legged tin soldier falls in love for a paper ballerina. After several perilous adventures like a love triangle involving a goblin jack-in-the box, a paper boat, a rat, and a fish, he and his love perish in a fire.

Other Versions: While the original ending has the tin soldier and paper ballerina perish in a fire, the 1845 edition lets them live.
Adaptations: Had a Fantasia 2000 sequence. Also adapted into a ballet by George Balanchine and a 1995 made for TV movie.
Why Forgotten: The ending involves incineration.
Trivia: Said to be based on Andersen’s childhood toys.

90.  The Tale of Norna-Gest


The Tale of Norna-Gest is an Icelandic saga of a man who’s cursed to live until the candle burns out. He lives to a very ripe old age.

From: Iceland
Earliest Appearance: Appeared as early as 1300.
Best Known Version: Probably the modern translation.
Synopsis: In Trondheim, Norway around 988, a stranger named Gest appears at King Olaf Tryggvason. He’s old yet surprisingly strong and astounds the king’s retainers by his harp-playing and storytelling skills. Asked how he can know so much about times long ago, he reveals he knew Sigurd Fafnisbane personally, as well as the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok (the guys on The Vikings series), Harald Finehair of Norway and King Ludwig of Germany. All this amazes the king and his court since these guys are long dead, some for centuries. Gest then reveals that he’s actually Norna-Gest and tells his story.

When he was born, his dad invites 3 norns (seer ladies) to foretell his future. 2 of them make good prophecies. But the last one is in a bad mood when some rude guests enrage her. So she curses Gest to live no longer than the candle burning beside his cradle. So the other norns extinguish the candle and tell the boy’s parents to keep it. Thus, he gains immortality so he can’t die before the candle is used up.

On King Olaf’s wish, Norna-Gest agrees to convert to Christianity. After a time, the king asks how long he plans to live. Norna-Gest admits he wants to die since he’s already 300 years old. In King Olaf’s presence, he lays on a bed and lights a candle. A priest gives him last rites and Norna-Gest dies.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Other than the one in TV Tropes, I couldn’t find many Google results for it in English.
Trivia: N/A

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 8 – The Three Little Men in the Wood to Whuppity Stoorie


Of course, lest not forget other fairy tale collectors and writers. As I said in my last post, there were plenty of them who predate the Grimms. Yet, there were others who came around their time and after. Naturally, you may remember the Danish Hans Christen Andersen who mostly wrote his own, including The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, and The Red Shoes. Then there’s the Norwegian fairy tale collectors Asbjørnsen and Moe and Russian Alexander Afanasyev who collected fairy tales in their respective countries. And during the Victorian era we have English collector Joseph Jacobs. Anyway, for this installment, I bring you another 10 forgotten fairy tales for your reading pleasure. First, we have some Grimm tales revolving around 3 forest-dwelling dwarves, a dozen dancing princesses and twin heroes. Second, are Russian tales involving a firebird, a wizard, a white duck, and a fairy godmother witch you really don’t want to mess with. Third, is a Norwegian story about brotherly deception. After that, is a Danish story revolving around a white dove that has nothing to do with Hans Christen Andersen. Lastly, we have a Scottish legend pertaining to a green witch.

71. The Three Little Men in the Wood


The Three Little Men in the Wood is a Grimm fairy tale about a young woman driven into the forest by an evil stepmother. There, she meets 3 dwarves who ask what happened to her as well as to share her food and sweep their main entrance. She complies.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A widow with a daughter persuades a widower’s daughter to convince her dad to marry her. Once the honeymoon’s over, she oppresses her. Finally, the stepmother sends the girl into the woods to gather strawberries. There, she meets 3 little men asking what happened to her, to share her food, and sweep their front step. When she goes, they decide that she’ll grow more beautiful by the day, have gold fall from her mouth every time she talked, and marry a king. Also, she finds strawberries. Next time, her arrogant stepsister insists on going after the strawberries. She’s rude to the little men and refuses to share her food. The little men curse her to grow uglier, have toads drop from her mouth, and die a miserable death. And she never finds the strawberries.

Furious, the stepmother sends her stepdaughter to rinse yarn in a frozen river (in hopes she’ll die). A king sees her and takes her off to his castle. They marry and have a baby. The stepmother and her daughter come to the castle, throws the queen out the window, and puts her daughter in her place. The stepmother refuses to let the king see her and blames the toads on her illness. However, a scullion sees a duck swim up and asks what happened at the castle. She then becomes a woman again and nurses the baby. On her third visit, she tells the scullion to tell the king to swing his sword 3 times over her while on the threshold. This brings her back to life. At the baby’s christening, the king asks the stepmother what punishment should be fitting for someone who threw a person into the water. She replies, “The wretch deserves nothing better than to be taken and put in a barrel stuck full of nails, and rolled down hill into the water.” So the king has it done to her and her daughter.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Red Fairy Book as “The Three Dwarfs” and Ruth Manning’s A Book of Dwarfs.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not exactly sure. Maybe because benevolent dwarves remind people too much of Snow White.
Trivia: N/A

72. Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Gray Wolf


Tsarevitch Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf is a Russian fairy tale about a young prince who’s sent to capture the elusive firebird. Along the way, he meets a helpful gray wolf, a magic flying horse, and the lovely Helena the Beautiful.

From: Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Best Known Version: Well, the Afanasyev version of course.
Synopsis: Hearing that a Firebird’s eating his precious fruit every night, a tsar tells his sons that whoever brings it in will be his heir. The sons each take turns to stand watch the next few nights. But only the youngest remains awake to drive the bird and win a feather from it. The older brothers set out to retrieve it, find a stone warning about the danger ahead and decide to stay where they are. Ivan follows them and chooses a path. On it, a wolf eats his horse and offers him help, giving him directions on how to steal the Firebird. But Ivan disobeys. So he gets captured and sent off to steal a magic flying horse for the tsar he tried to rob. The wolf gives him directions on how to get the horse. But again, Ivan disobeys, gets caught, and is sent to kidnap Helena the Beautiful. With the wolf’s help, he brings her and the magic horse to the tsar who demanded them. Only to steal the girl and the horse along with the Firebird before leaving. Ivan’s brothers find him sleeping on his return. They kill him and walk off with the Firebird, the horse, and Helena the Beautiful. The wolf resurrects Ivan. Helena tells everyone what happened. While the brothers get thrown into prison as Ivan and Helena marry.


Here Tsarevitch Ivan nearly captures the firebird. Yet, at least he gets a feather.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Inspired the Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, “The Firebird.” Also adapted into a 2011 animated film.
Why Forgotten: I’m not exactly sure. But most people remember the “Firebird.” But it’s better known as a “phoenix.”
Trivia: N/A

73. Tsarevitch Petr and the Wizard


Tsarevitch Petr and the Wizard is about a prince who must venture to find his mother who was kidnapped by a powerful sorcerer. But before he gets there, he must take instruction from an old man in the forest.

From: Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Best Known Version: Well, the Afanasyev version of course.
Synopsis: A Tsar and his Tsaritsa have 3 sons: Alexei, Dimitri, and Petr. One day, the Tsaritsa goes on a walk and vanishes. The Tsar’s advisers conclude that the most powerful of all wizards, Koshchei abducted her and recommend that he marry again. Since it’s no use getting her back anyway. Instead, he offers anyone who sets off after her anything they need. After many heroes try and fail, the Tsar tells his sons that they must go. Alexei takes gold and a troop of soldiers. Only to lose all his men one by one until he’s left with just 10. He then meets an old man, telling him he won’t reach Koshchei’s castle because there are 3 rivers and the ferrymen’s tolls aren’t cheap. Alexei assures he’s got enough money. However, the first ferryman frightens off Alexei’s remaining men and demands his right hand. He allows it but when he reaches the second ferryman, he panics and returns home. Dimitri goes after him and even gets to the second ferryman who demands his left foot. But he panics at the third ferryman.

However, Petr only goes with a horse and sword. Yet, what he lacks in supplies, he makes up for in thorough planning. He chooses the sword by testing all the swords for a month. While he picks the horse by driving all the horses into the sea and selecting the one swimming the farthest and wrestling with the waves. He rides off. He’s polite to the old man who thinks he might reach it. In turn, the old man tells him how to get in. When he meets the ferrymen, he demands that each one ferry him before getting the price and then kills them on the other side. As the old man advised, he climbs the mountain with iron claws. There, he finds a copper castle with a stolen princess who can only direct him onward to a silver castle. There, another princess sends him onward to a golden castle. A princess there sends him to a fourth castle, of pearl where his mother is.

The Tsaritsa tries to trick Koshchei to extract knowledge of where his heart is. After lying to her, claiming it was in a broom and hedge, he tells her, “Know that my life is in neither the broom nor the hedge, but is in an egg. The egg is in a duck, and the duck is in a hare, and the hare nests in a great hollow log that floats in a pond in a forest of the island Bouyan.” Petr sets out backwards to find it, rescuing a salmon, hawk, and bear along the way. With their help, he deals with the animals and returns with the egg and kills Koshchei with it. He then brings back his mom with the princesses, marrying the gold castle princess while the other 2 wed his brothers.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, it doesn’t seem to have its own Wikipedia entry. Also, princes usually have to rescue princesses not their mothers.
Trivia: N/A

74. True and Untrue
From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, obviously.
Synopsis: True and Untrue are brothers. One day, their widowed mom sends them away to earn a living. Untrue persuades True to share his food before jeering him for wanting his brother to share his. True points out that Untrue’s being a jerk. But Untrue gouges his eyes out. Now blind and unemployable, True gropes about to find a large tree. He decides to climb it for fear of animals since he’ll know it’s morning by the birdsong. A bear, fox, wolf, and rabbit gather there to celebrate St. John’s Day. As each recounts about a cure for the King of England’s ills, including eyesight restoration. True uses it on his own eyes and can see. He then takes a job with the king. When the king complains about his health problems, True fixes them one by one. His last assignment is curing the princess, which wins him her hand in marriage. Untrue comes to the wedding to beg bread. True gives him a little food and sends him off to the tree where he had learned these things the previous year. Untrue climbs it but the animals show up. The bear announces the someone obviously eavesdrop last year so they won’t talk now.

Other Versions: One Russian and 2 French variants exist. In one version, True is blinded so he and Untrue can make more money begging.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Involves eye gouging.
Trivia: N/A

75. The Twelve Dancing Princesses

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Said to be no earlier than the 17th century. Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: 12 princesses sleep in 12 beds in the same room. Despite their bedroom doors being securely locked, their shoes always appear worn as if they went dancing all night by morning. Despite the castle’s cobbler hitting the jackpot, the king promises his kingdom and daughter to any man who could discover the princesses’ secret within 3 days and 3 nights. Those who fail to within 72 hours are put to death. Following the many who failed so the executioner can enjoy a nice vacation in the Bahamas, an old soldier comes to try his hand at the task. Traveling through the woods, he comes across an old woman who gives him an invisibility cloak as well as instructs him not ingest anything the princesses might give him when they come to him during the evening. She also tells him to pretend being fast asleep after the princesses leave. He follows the advice, only pretending to drink the wine one of the princesses gives him after reaching the castle and pretending to fall asleep.


When they’re sure the soldier is asleep, the princesses don their finery and go out into the woods. The soldier follows them.

Sure the soldier was asleep, the princesses dress themselves in fine clothes and escape from their room via a trapdoor on the floor. Seeing this, the soldier dons his invisibility cloak and follows them down. The passageway leads to 3 groves of trees: one of silver, one of gold, and one of diamonds. The soldier breaks off a twig from each as evidence. They walk on until coming onto a great lake as 12 boats with 12 princes ferry the princesses to the other side. The soldier stows away hiding in the youngest princess’ boat. A castle appears on the other side, into which the princesses dance the night away until their shoes wear out and they have to leave. This continues on the second and third night. On the third night, the soldier carries away a golden cup as a token of where he’d been. When it comes time to reveal the princesses’ secret, he goes to the king with the 3 branches and the golden cup and tells him all he’s seen. The princesses see there’s no use to deny the truth and confess. The soldier takes the oldest princess as his bride and becomes the king’s heir.


Here we see the princesses dancing with their partners under the moon and the stars. Will only be a matter of time until their shoes wear out.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Red Fairy Book. There’s a French version collected by Charles Deulin in his 1874 Contes du Roi Cambinus. Alexander Afanasyev collected a Russian variant, “The Secret Ball”, in Narodnye Russkie Skazki. Some versions have the men the princesses dance with under a spell. While many variants have the princesses under a curse as well. Sometimes the soldier chooses the youngest princess whom he closely follows and sometimes he doesn’t marry a princess at all. Nonetheless, numerous countries appear to have their own version.
Adaptations: This one has numerous adaptations, including a Hindi Bollywood film in 2011.
Why Forgotten: I’m not sure why this isn’t as mainstream as Snow White or Cinderella.
Trivia: Also known as “The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes” or “The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces.”

76. The Two Brothers


The Two Brothers is a Grimm fairy tale about 2 fortunate poor boys who go off on adventures together. Though one of them slays a dragon and marries a princess.

From: Germany and Lithuania
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers. Has 2 distinct sections which may have originally been 2 separate tales. They mention in an afterword having also collected stories that resemble the first section with a different ending or the second section with a different beginning. Andrew Lang collected a story resembling the second section called “The Three Princes and Their Beasts” for The Violet Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version.
Synopsis: There are 2 brothers. One is a rich and wicked goldsmith. The other is a poor humble broom maker. The broom maker discovers a rare golden bird which the goldsmith buys off him. Since it’s magical, whoever cooks and eats its heart and liver will find a gold coin under their pillows each morning. The goldsmith has his wife cook the bird, but due to a mishap, the broom maker’s starving twin boys eat the heart and liver. When the boys start finding gold coins under their pillows, the astonished broom maker seeks advice from his brother. The goldsmith vindictively claims they’ve fallen to the devil and must be driven out. A huntsman takes the 2 kids in and raises them as his own sons.

The boys grow up and become young men who set out to seek their fortunes. First, they travel together, acquire a matching set of animal companions and go on some adventures before going their separate ways. The younger brother saves a princess from a dragon and wins her hand. They live happily for awhile until he goes out hunting in a mysterious forest and a witch turns him into stone. Receiving word that his sibling is in trouble, the older brother comes visiting and gets mistaken for his twin. He lets the mistake stand so he can borrow his brother’s authority to find out what’s going on before going into the forest and rescuing his younger brother from the witch. Though grateful to be reunited with his sibling, the younger brother experiences an attack of jealousy when he learns his older brother has been living his life. Until he gets home and the princess asks him why he’s been behaving strangely distant and sleeping on the couch the last few days.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not sure why. Maybe the fact princess asks her husband why he hasn’t been sleeping in their bed the past few days.
Trivia: N/A

77. Vasilissa the Beautiful


Vasilissa the Beautiful is a Russian fairy tale about a young woman sent to Baba Yaga by her evil stepmother. Baba Yaga has her do a series of impossible tasks which she succeeds.

From: Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Best Known Version: The Afanasyev version, obviously.
Synopsis: Vasilissa is the youngest and a stepdaughter. Her stepmother and stepsisters have her do chores. She manages with her dead mom’s blessing and the doll she gave her. When she comes of age, all young men want to marry her, rather than her older sisters, which her stepmother forbids. After her into the woods in hopes she’d run into Baba Yaga who’d eat her, the stepmother sends Vasilissa directly to the witch for fire after deliberately extinguishing all the other ones. Vasilissa finds Baba Yaga at in her hut on chicken leg stilts surrounded by skulls that glow at night. Baba Yaga has Vasilissa do some impossible tasks. Yet, when she finds the girl succeeds with her mom’s blessing, she evicts Vasilissa but not without giving her a skull lantern. Because no one with a blessing can stay with her.


Here’s the witch Baba Yaga. Notice that she’s anything but a benevolent fairy godmother.

When Vasilissa returns, she finds out her stepmother and stepsisters have been unable to light a fire while she was gone. The skull lantern quickly sets the whole house on fire to the ground with the stepmother and stepsisters inside. Vasilissa seeks shelter with an old woman and begins to spin flax and weave the thread. When the old woman brings it to market, she takes it to the Tsar who can’t find seamstresses who can sew it. The piece is sent back to Vasilissa who can. Whereupon the Tsar insists on seeing her, falls in love, and marries her.

Other Versions: Some versions just have Vasilissa live peacefully with her dad after Baba Yaga’s house fire.
Adaptations: Made into a 1939 film and a 1977 animated feature.
Why Forgotten: Well, Baba Yaga’s the kind of fairy godmother who’s not going to pretty you up for a fancy dress ball so you can catch a prince after losing your shoe one night. No, she’ll basically give you a skull lantern and set your house on fire to burn your awful stepmom and stepsisters to a crisp.
Trivia: N/A

78. The White Dove
From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in The Pink Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: Obviously, the Lang version.
Synopsis: A witch rescues 2 princes during a storm at sea on the condition of receiving their younger (not yet born) brother. Years later, she claims him and he goes with her as promised. She has him sort feathers. When he does, a whirlwind mixes them up again. A white dove taps on the window and offers to help, sorting all the feathers. The next day, he has to chop wood but the pile keeps growing the longer he works. Again, the dove helps, splitting all the wood. The prince thanks her and kisses her. She turns into a lovely woman who reveals she’s a kidnapped princess. He must ask for her as the princess as she keeps flying as a dove, and recognizes her despite shapeshifting by the red thread she’ll bear on her foot.

In turn, the witch tries offering a broken down donkey and an old hag. The prince accepts them since they’re the princess. To keep her promise, the witch lets them marry. But the princess warns they must flee because she’s fulfilled it and need to do no more for that. They leave 2 enchanted wood pieces behind to speak for them while they take some water and a flower pot. When the witch tries to kill them in the morning, she finds the wood and chases. First the throw the flower pot which turns into wood. Getting through that, they throw down the water, which turns into a lake and compels the witch to go back for her dough trough to cross it. They then reach the prince’s castle. The princess blows her breath outward, causing hundreds of white doves to attack the witch who turns to flint in her anger. The prince’s brothers confess what they’ve done and say he should be their father’s heir.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, it involves 2 older brothers selling out to a witch out of a desperate situation. Also a princess impersonates a hag and donkey.
Trivia: N/A

79. The White Duck
From: Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye Russkie Skazki.
Best Known Version: The Afanasyev version, I guess.
Synopsis: A king leaves his new wife on a journey and warns her to be careful in his absence. A woman lures the queen into a garden and into a pool before turning her into a white duck and. She then takes the queen’s form and place and the king returns to an impostor. The duck soon lays 3 eggs comprising of 2 ducklings and an ugly drake hatched from them. The duck warns the 3 of the witch and to avoid her. One day, the witch manages to lure the 3 inside. But she waits for the ducklings to fall asleep before slaying them. The drake stays awake and escapes. The white duck finds the bodies and laments the deaths. The king discovers this, the duck returning to her queenly form in his presence. The returned queen tells him what happened and he seeks the magical aid of water to revive the killed ducklings and turn them along with the drake into human children. The king then condemns the witch and has her executed through dismemberment.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Yellow Fairy Book.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not exactly sure.
Trivia: N/A

80. Whuppity Stoorie


Whuppity Stoorie is a Scottish fairy tale about a poor woman who needs her pregnant sow alive or else everything will go to shit. The green woman cures the sow but demands the baby.

From: Scotland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Robert Chambers in Popular Rhymes of Scotland. It’s like Rumplestiltskin with chicks.
Best Known Version: The Chambers version of course.
Synopsis: A man leaves his wife and baby. The woman is desperately poor but hopes her sow will have many piglets when it farrows. One day, the sow is clearly dying. A green gentlewoman offers to cure it and the woman’s willing to do anything for it. She does and demands the baby. However, by their law, she can’t take the baby for 3 days. And if the woman can correctly guess her name, she can’t do it at all. The woman goes for a walk in the woods and happens to catch the green gentlewoman singing about her name. The next day, the green gentlewoman comes for the kid and the woman has some fun playing at begging and pleading before she reveals, “In troth, fair madam. I might have had the wit to know that the likes of me is not fit to tie the worst shoestrings of the high and mighty princess, Whuppity Stoorie.”

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, this tale isn’t very long and it pertains to a poor wife who needs to keep her pigs alive instead of a single miller’s daughter rumored to spin straw into gold.
Trivia: N/A

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 7 – The Six Swans to The Three Aunts


We all know the Grimm brothers collected fairy tales that the compiled in books during the 1800s. But they weren’t the only fairy tale collectors. Nor were they the first. The first notable European fairy tale collector was an Italian named Gianfrancesco Straparola who lived during the 1500s. The first sole fairy tale collection, Il Pentamerone, was by another Italian named Giambattista Basile who wrote it during the 1630s. Though he’s better known for his date rape Sleeping Beauty story. In the late 1600s, we have Charles Perrault for his Tales of Mother Goose which include early versions of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. Another is Madame d’Aulnoy who coined the term “fairy tale” in her Les Contes des Fées. Anyway, in this installment, I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, we look into Grimm stories about swan princes, two sisters, and a young man who spends the night in a haunted house. Second, we have Italian variants of Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. Third, we have some tales from Norway about a castle resided by trolls with multiple heads, an unconventional princess, and 3 “aunts.” Next, is a story from Iceland about a Viking king with a mysterious past. And finally, a Scottish legend about a young man who’s kidnapped by fairies.

61. The Six Swans


The Six Swans is a Grimm fairy tale about 6 princes turned into swans by an evil stepmother. But the heroine is a princess who must make nettle shirts without speaking.

From: Germany and Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: Hans Christen Andersen’s “The Wild Swans” might be the best known version.
Synopsis: A witch forces her way into a king’s life with help by her evil mother and a fellow witch. Targeting 6 brothers from her new husband’s first marriage by transforming them into swans who can only assume their human form for 15 minutes a night. Fortunately, there’s still hope for them for their little sister hasn’t been enchanted. So they tell her that she must make 6 nettle shirts and can’t make a sound for 7 years or the spell won’t be broken. The girl accepts this and hides in a hunter’s hut, focusing only on her mission.


Here the queen has just completed the shirts for her brothers and she’s about to put them on. Yet, she’s tied and about to be burned at the stake.

Sometime later a young foreign king meets the girl in the forest, is quite taken by her beauty, and marries her despite his mother’s objections over her son marrying a non-noble Queen Consort or how her new daughter-in-law keeps working on the shirts in her spare time. When the now queen gives birth to her first child, her wicked mother-in-law takes the kid away and accuses her of killing and eating him. Due to her vow of silence, the new queen can’t properly defend herself. The evil Dowager Queen does this 2 subsequent times. Her husband defends his wife as much as he can but the third time’s the limit. And the girl won’t stop knitting and sewing. On execution day, the queen has finished making the shirts for her brothers. Well, almost since the last one’s missing a left arm. When she’s brought to the stake, she takes the shirts with her. When she’s about to be burned, the 7 years are up and the 6 swans come flying through the air. She throws the shirts over her brothers and they regain their human for (though the last guy will have to deal with a left wing for the rest of his life). Now free to speak, the queen can freely defend herself against the fraudulent accusations. She and her brothers then tell the king and everyone else what’s going on. The evil mother-in-law returns the 3 babies she stole and is burned at the stake. From then on, he royal family and the brothers live their lives in happiness and peace.

Other Versions: Has variants by Hans Christen Andersen as “The Wild Swans” and one by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe called “The Wild Ducks.” There’s even a North African version called “Udea and Her Brothers.” Some versions raise the number of siblings from 7 to 12. Sometimes the princess could be the oldest.
Adaptations: Retold as Daughter of the Forest and Anne Hunter’s Moonlight. Featured in the Japanese Grimm’s Fairytale Classics and animated film The Wild Swans: Princess of the Swans.
Why Forgotten: Despite it being adapted several times, much of the original Grimm story is adapted out for various reasons.
Trivia: N/A

62. Snow-White and Rose-Red


The Grimm fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red is about 2 sisters who go on various adventures. One of them includes a bear who turns into a handsome prince.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Written by Caroline Stahl as “The Ungrateful Dwarf.”
Best Known Version: The Grimm Brothers’ version is the best known.
Synopsis: A poor peasant woman lives in a cabin in the woods. She grows 2 rose trees in front of her house, one with white roses and one with red. When the flowers bloom, she has 2 daughters who she names after the trees: Snow-White and Rose-Red. They have an adventure involving an evil dwarf, a bear that turns out to be an enchanted prince, the enchanted prince’s enchanted brother, and of course, live happily ever after.


Snow White and Rose Red are sisters who are as different as night and day. One likes being in the house. The other prefers the outdoors.

Other Versions: Many versions include expansions.
Adaptations: Adapted into a comic and was featured in the Japanese Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics.
Why Forgotten: If the title includes “Snow White” but doesn’t include 7 dwarves who can’t do housework, a beauty-obsessed homicidal witch queen, a magic mirror causing self-esteem issues, an innocent brunette princess whose singing voice can summon the woodland creatures into spring cleaning, a poisoned apple, and a prince who commits sexual assault, it will not be remembered.
Trivia: N/A

63. Snow-White-Fire-Red
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Thomas Crane. Bears a better resemblance to Rapunzel than Snow White.
Best Known Version: The Crane version, obviously.
Synopsis: A small prince breaks a pitcher wherein an ogress had carefully caught the last of an oil fountain (built in honor of his birth). She curses him so he can’t marry anyone but Snow-White-Fire-Red. When he grows up, he remembers it and goes looking for her. He finds a tower where an ogress arrives and calls Snow-White-Fire-Red to let down her hair. As soon as the ogress leaves, he does the same and woos the girl. She hides him when the ogress returns, whom she calls her mother. She then asks her how she could escape. Believing the girl’s just curious, the ogress explains. Next, the girl enchants all the furniture to answer for the ogress so she runs off with the prince. The ogress keeps calling up the tower and the furniture answer. Until she figures it out and chases after them. The girl throws down balls of yarn she took, each which transform into an obstacle until the last one drowns the ogress. But not before she curses Snow-White-Fire-Red to have the prince forget her as soon as his mother kisses him. The prince goes to fetch clothes for her to appear in, his mother kisses him. And Snow-White-Fire-Red has to enchant 2 doves to go to the prince to jog his memory loose.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Probably because we don’t think of Snow White as having long red hair or being proactive in any way but staging a home invasion and summoning woodland creatures for housework assistance.
Trivia: N/A

64. Soria Moria Castle


In the Norwegian Soria Moria Castle, a guy named Halvor stumbles on a castle. Inside, there’s a princess who warns him of multi-headed trolls.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, obviously.
Synopsis: A couple had a useless son named Halvor who’d just grope about in the ashes. When they bound him out, they think he’d only last a day or two. Then a skipper invites him on board and off he goes. A storm carries them to a faraway land where Halvor goes looking about. Finally, he reaches a castle where a princess warns him of a troll but feeds him, has him try a sword on a wall, and gives him the potion the troll used when he lifted the sword. When the troll comes, Halvor cuts off all 3 of its heads. She asks him to help her sisters and he does so, though they’re prisoners of trolls with 6 and 9 heads. He chooses the youngest of them as his bride. After a time Halvor wants to see his parents.


Here Halvor slays a multi-headed troll. Still, you’d think he’d quit on the head-slicing thing by now.

The sisters give him a magic ring to wish himself there and back. But they warn him not to mention them. He goes back and brags of them and they appear before them all. So they take the ring and leave without He sets out to find the castle again. He meets with an old woman who keeps the Moon’s house, and unbeknownst to the Moon, trades boots “with which you can take twenty miles at each stride” and sends him off with the West Wind, leading him to the castle where the princess was marrying again. He uses the ring the princess left him to reveal himself. The princess marries him and not the new bridegroom.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Red Fairy Book.
Adaptations: Has been adapted into a song, poem, and novel.
Why Forgotten: It’s actually one of the best-known Norwegian fairy tales. It’s just that it’s not very well known outside Norway.
Trivia: Inspired a painting by Theodor Kittelsen.

65. The Story of King Odd
From: Iceland
Earliest Appearance: Printed in 1862 by Jón Árnason in Icelandic Folktales and Fairy Tales.
Best Known Version: Probably the one by Arnason.
Synopsis: Despite being popular, an old king is still single and childless (not good). Suddenly, a Viking horde lands in the realm and its leader, Odd challenges the king to battle. King bites the dust and Odd declares himself the new king. Despite his violent takeover, Odd becomes a popular ruler despite that nobody knows where he came from or who his parents are. The fall after Odd’s conquest, a wandering man arrives to the palace and pleads to be taken as a winter guest. The king agrees on the condition that the stranger must disclose as secret of his, Odd’s origins and identity the first day of summer. If he can’t, he’ll be executed. The man agrees. Summer comes and the winter guest has no idea what’s the king’s secret is. He gets the axe. Next autumn another traveler asks for a winter stay. Odd agrees on the same condition as before. Like his predecessor, he can’t unearth a clue about Odd’s past. So on to the executioner he goes. So do more winter guests during the next 4 subsequent years. In the king’s 7th year, yet another wanderer asks he’ll accept if he can sleep in the king’s own bedroom. The king agrees.

All winter, the guest keeps a close watch on the king but nothing happens until Christmas night when Odd, believing the guest is asleep, sneaks out of the bedroom. But the guest is wide awake and follows him stealthily to a lake in a bog. When Odd dives in, the guest follows him and finds himself on a beautiful meadow. It’s the Netherworld. It turns out that Odd is actually an elf queen who’s been banished to the Upper World with a curse. And the only way to lift it was to discover Odd’s true identity without any help. Now that the curse is lifted, Odd leaves to the Netherworld and makes the guest her successor.

Other Versions: Can’t think of any.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I tried doing a Google search for this tale but I couldn’t find any entries in English.
Trivia: N/A

66. The Story of Youth Who Went Forth to Know What Fear Was


The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was is a Grimm fairy tale about a young man who spends a few nights in a haunted house to get scared to death. It fails spectacularly.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm’s second version.
Synopsis: A young man is unaware what fear is. A sexton tries helping him by having the guy ring the church bell at midnight, while he scares him dressed as a ghost. The youngster isn’t scared at all and pushes the sexton down the stairs, breaking his leg. Ashamed and horrified, his father sends him out into the wide world. The young man takes this as an opportunity to try and learn what fear is (though he would’ve accomplished that quick if he just attended a Trump rally). A stranger advises him to spend a night beneath the gallows where 7 dead men hung. He follows that advice, sets a fire for the night, and even cuts down the bodies to sit them next to him around the camp blaze. When the corpses’ clothes catch fire, the youngster gets annoyed at their carelessness and hangs them back up.


Here the young man spends a night beneath the gallows. But the guy just uses the corpses as company near a campfire.

When arriving at an inn one day, the innkeeper tells the young man that if wants to know how to shudder, he should visit a nearby haunted castle. Nobody ever survived spending one night there, because they all died of fear. But if he managed to stay there, he’ll earn all the castle’s rich treasures and marry the king’s daughter. The young man decides to take on the challenge and goes to the king who tells him that he can carry 3 things to the castle. The young man chooses a fire, a lathe, and a cutting board with a knife. The first night, 2 black cats confront him complaining about the cold. The young man invites them to join him near the fire. The cats then propose a card game, but the young man cuts their nails with the cutting board knife. A huge fight breaks loose with all kinds of cats and dogs trying to attack him. Then, a bed appears out of nowhere. The young man hops in but the bed moves and drives him around the entire castle. Still unafraid, he urges it to go faster. The bed turns upside down on him. But he just tosses the bed aside and sleeps next to the fire until morning.


During the first night, the young man has to contend with demon cats. He cuts their nails with a knife.

During the second night, a half of a man falls down the chimney. Again unafraid, the young man shouts at the chimney that he needs the other half. Hearing him, the other half falls from the chimney and reunites with the rest. More men followed with human skulls and dead men’s legs with which to play 9-pins. The amused young man sharpened the skulls into better balls with his lathe and joined them men until midnight, when they vanish into thin air. On his third and final night in the castle, the young man hears a strange noise. 6 men enter his room, carrying a coffin. Unafraid but distraught, the boy believed the body to be his own cousin. Trying to warm the body, it reanimates. Confused, it threatens to strangle him. Angry at his ingratitude, the young man closed the coffin on top of the man again. An old man then appears bragging he could knock an anvil straight to the ground. He brings the young man to the basement, while showing the young man his trick, the youngster splits the anvil and traps the old man, beating him with an iron rod afterwards. Desperate for mercy, the man shows him all the castle’s treasures. The next morning, the king tells the young man that he could win his lovely daughter. He agrees despite not still not having learned how to shudder. One night, his wife tosses freezing water with gudgeons onto her husband while he’s sleeping. He wakes up shuddering, exclaiming while he finally learned how to do that, he still doesn’t know what true fear is.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Has numerous literary and TV adaptations.
Why Forgotten: Well, it’s hardly forgotten but it’s not nearly as mainstream as Cinderella. Still, this fairy tale needs its own Tim Burton movie adaptation since it’s humorous macabre just suits him.
Trivia: Frequently compiled into books featuring the “best” fairy tales of all time.

67. Sun, Moon, and Talia
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Giambattista Basile in Il Pentamerone in 1636. It’s basically Sleeping Beauty with date rape and Game of Thrones. Thought to have influenced Charles Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty.”
Best Known Version: Basile’s of course.
Synopsis: On his daughter’s birth, a king asks all the wise men and seers to tell her future. They determine that she’ll be exposed to great danger from a flax splinter. So to prevent any such accident, the king orders that no flax or hemp should ever come to the castle. But one day when Talia had grown up, she sees an old woman spinning pass by her window. Since she had never seen anything like that before, Talia “was therefore delighted with the dancing of the spindle.” Curious, she takes the distaff and begins drawing out the thread. A hemp splinter, “got under her fingernail and she immediately fell dead upon the ground.” The king leaves his lifeless daughter seated on a velvet chair in the palace, locks the door, and departs forever to obliterate his memory of sorrow. Instead of like, you know, maybe trying to break the curse.

Sometime later, another king goes out hunting. His falcon flies into an empty castle window and doesn’t return. Trying to find the falcon, the king wanders through the castle. He finds Talia as if asleep but nothing could rouse her. Falling in love with her beauty, you’d think he’d kiss her at this point, which would still be sexual assault but far less disturbing. But, no, he rapes her before leaving and forgetting the whole thing. 9 months later, Talia gives birth to twins, all this time still in a magical coma. They nurse from her breast. Until one day, one of the babies wanted to suck but couldn’t find the teat. So instead it sucks on the finger that had been pricked. The baby sucks so hard on the splinter that it drew the piece out so hard that Talia rouses from her deep sleep, finding out that she’s been raped and is now a mother of 2. You can guess she has a lot of questions at this point.

One day, the king remembers his adventure and goes to see Talia again, presumably to rape her once more. He finds her awake and after confessing his paternity to the children, they go off to have a long weekend sex marathon in the hay. Despite that she has almost absolutely no idea who he is. Then he brings her and the kids to his castle but is careful to hide them from his wife (Oh, did I forget to mention King Creepypants is married? What an adulterous charmer). Once the queen discovers his secret and on sends for the 2 babies in the king’s name on the sly. She orders them cooked and served to her husband. The cook hides the children in his home and prepares 2 goat kids instead, which the queen serves the king. Later the queen sends for Talia, planning to have her thrown into the fire for causing the king’s infidelity (despite that the king, you know, raped her). The king arrives at the last minute, has his wife thrown into the fire, marries Talia, and is happy to find his kids whom the cook had saved.

Other Versions: One English translation tried sanitizing the story by changing the queen to be the king’s stepmother, rather than wife, and stupidly kept the line about him blaming her for not having children. Another translation removed the children by rape element. Instead, 2 kids randomly walk into the castle (with the narrator stating not to know where they came from) and try to wake Talia. The little girl puts Talia’s finger into her mouth and tries biting her awake, but instead accidentally sucks out the object keeping her comatose.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: For Christ’s sake, it involves date rape and the princess is willing to get together with him afterwards (creepy as fuck, I know, especially since she woke up finding herself as a mother of 2). And the king is married, by the way. But it’s okay, his wife’s totally evil and crazy (all right that’s very sexist but that’s how the story put it).
Trivia: N/A

68. Tam Lin


Based on a Scottish ballad from the 16th century, Tam Lin involves a one-night stand between the title character and Janet. After she’s knocked up, Janet finds out that Tam Lin is held hostage by the Queen of the Fairies.

From: Scotland
Earliest Appearance: Oldest known version was printed in 1549.
Best Known Version: Child Ballad #39 that’s collected by Francis Child.
Synopsis: Headstrong young Janet hears that the mysterious Tam Lin has forbidden all maidens to go into the forest called Carterhaugh (a real place in Scotland near Selkirk) on pain of uh, not really being maidens. Still, against her better judgement, she declares that she’ll check out Carterhaugh to see what all the fuss is about. But she no sooner picks a rose that Tam Lin himself shows up. Whether he rapes or they engage in consensual sex depends on the version. Anyway, sometime later, one of the knights for Janet’s dad remarks that his boss’ daughter looks knocked up. Janet agrees but says that she wasn’t messing around with any of her dad’s knights. So she returns to Carterhaugh to speak with Tam Lin.

Once there, Tam Lin tells Janet that he was once mortal, but the Queen of the Fairies captured him. And since the fairies make a sacrifice to Hell every 7 years, he’s afraid he’ll be the next offer. Yet, Janet can save him if she waits by Miles Cross on Halloween until midnight. Since that’s when the fairies will ride by and Tam Lin will be on a white horse. She must pull him down from the horse and hold onto him throughout his transformations. Janet does this. The Queen of the Fairies is obliged to let Tam Lin go. Later, Tam Lin and Janet marry.

Other Versions: Joseph Jacobs rewrote the ballad into a prose fairy tale, “Tamlane” in his 1894 More English Fairy Tales. In this version Burd Janet and Tamlane are lovers and engaged to begin with. But Tamlane gets kidnapped by elves before the wedding (thus, getting rid of the whole knocking-up business).
Adaptations: Has numerous adaptations, most famously a 1970 movie starring Roddy McDowall and Ava Gardner.
Why Forgotten: Well, the fact Tam Lin knocks up Burd Janet at some point might have something to with it.
Trivia: It’s one of the most popular ballads, both as a song and as a source of literature. Covered numerous times. Also, the name “Tomlin” comes from the title.

69. Tatterhood


The Norwegian fairy tale, Tatterhood is about an unconventional princess who dresses in rags, rides on a goat, and uses a ladle as a weapon. But goblins, trolls, and witches must not mess with her or her sister.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, obviously.
Synopsis: A beggar woman tells a queen that she will have children if she eats one of these 2 flowers (though the king and queen adopt a girl who’s friends with the beggar woman’s girl to begin with). But she warns her that since one is ugly and the other is pretty, only eat the pretty one. The queen eats both. Later, she gives birth to fraternal twin girls. One is beautiful and good (but is kind of a ditz). The other is, well, different. Of course, the girl earns the nickname Tatterhood for her tattered clothes. She also carries a wooden ladle and rides on a goat. But while she’s no beauty, she’s got her redeeming qualities as a stone-cold badass who takes the law in her own hands where goblins, trolls, and witches are concerned, even running outside during their terrifying celebration and bopping them on the head with her ladle. Unfortunately, her maids aren’t nearly as brave and a witch turns the beautiful princess into a calf. Tatterhood decides that this won’t do, takes her sister on a long sea voyage, eventually breaking into the witch’s castle and fighting all the goblins, trolls, and witches off in order to turn her sister back into a human. Afterwards, the sisters travel at sea until they come across a faraway kingdom where the beautiful princess marries the 40+ year-old king while Tatterhood marries the son (as part of pact that if the Tatterhood doesn’t get hitched, she won’t either). But on the wedding day, Tatterhood turns herself beautiful for the occasion to get back at her fiancé who’s really not looking forward to it. Confused the prince asks why, Tatterhood states that she can pretty herself but she just prefers to remain ugly for the sheer hell of it.


One sister dresses in rags and seems like she belongs in an insane asylum. But she’s a stone cold badass. The other is a perfect princess in every way but dumb.

Other Versions: Some versions just simply give the king 2 sons instead of having the pretty sister marry the king and Tatterhold marry his adult son. Also, some versions either make the princesses’ adopted older sister their cousin or don’t include her at all.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I guess Disney doesn’t care much for ugly princesses, no matter how badass. Nonetheless, Tatterhood is the princess Disney needs since she bucks the trend on what we conventionally expect from princesses, fairytale heroines, or women in general. Tatterhood doesn’t need to be beautiful and doesn’t care what people think of her. She’s her own person. Then again, we do have Arya Stark who comes close with being a vengeful assassin.
Trivia: N/A

70. The Three Aunts


The Norwegian tale The Three Aunts is about a young woman who boasts of her nonexistent clothmaking skills. So 3 old ladies help her in exchange they pose as her relatives at her wedding.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe. A more benign version of Rumplestiltskin since all these women want are offical recognition for their efforts.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, I guess.
Synopsis: A girl has to go into service, where the queen likes her so much that the envious other servants claim the girl bragged about spinning a pound of flax per day. The queen insists she actually do it despite that the girl can’t even spin. An old woman comes in and does it for her in exchange for being an honorary aunt on her wedding. The servants claim the girl could weave linen in a day with the queen insisting. So another woman helps her. The servants claim the girl could sew in a day with the queen insisting again. Another old woman helps. Pleased with the girl’s skill, the queen has her marry the prince because she wouldn’t need to hire women to do such work. The 3 old ladies come to the wedding feast and are hideously ugly during the day. But the girl called each of them Auntie and they got to sit at the feast. The prince asks why such a pretty girl has such ugly aunts. They reply that they had been pretty once but endless spinning, weaving, and sewing had ruined their looks. The prince promptly forbids his new wife from doing any of that ever again.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Made into a 1921 film in Germany.
Why Forgotten: Well, doing favors and asking for one’s firstborn child from the recipient is much more terrifying and memorable than doing favors and asking for some official recognition and a good time.
Trivia: N/A

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 6 – Prince Lindworm to The Six Servants


In the last post, you’ve probably seen a few fairy tales from places like India, East Africa, and Japan. Yet, while I used pictures from Japan for Momotaro, the ones for the other 2 contain figures that look unusually white. Of course, these are illustrations appearing straight from Andrew Lang’s books. And Lang lived during the 19th century, a time when the western world was steeped in colonialism, imperialism, and racism. So it’s not hard to explain. Nonetheless, while many of these fairy tale collectors usually restricted themselves to a particular region, Lang collected tales from all over the world which he compiled into 12 fairy books. Anyway, in this installment I bring you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, we have 3 Norwegian tales about a dragon prince, a princess on a glass hill, and 7 foals. Second, is a story about an Italian girl who likes prunes and gets abducted by a witch. Third, are 2 tales from England about a rose tree with child murder and cannibalism and an asshole knight who goes against a preschooler. Then we have a few Grimm tales about an animal princess, 7 ravens, and 6 servants. And finally, we find a tale from Japan about a wonder dog who gets rid of demon cats.

51. Prince Lindworm


The Norwegian tale Prince Lindworm is about a prince born a dragon. When he reaches marrying age, he requests to be married before his twin. But the bride must meet 2 conditions. First, she must be a virgin. Second, she must consent to the relationship.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: 19th century. It’s like Beauty and the Beast with dragons and far more gore and sexual content.
Best Known Version: N/A
Synopsis: A husband and wife (usually a king and queen) can’t have a child. Following an old crone’s advice to overcome the childless situation, the queen eats 2 onions (but doesn’t peel the first one). 9 months later, she gives birth to twin boys. Unfortunately, the first twin is born a lindworm (a serpentine dragon) while the second is perfect in every way. When he grows up and sets off to find a bride, the lindworm insists that a bride be found for him before his younger brother can marry. But he set that the girl must meet 2 conditions. First, she must be a virgin. Second, she must love him willingly (or at least consent to the relationship). But none of the chosen maidens fill these conditions. So he kills each new bride they bring to him, creating a slight problem for the kingdom. Until a miller’s daughter who spoke to the same crone is brought to marry him (figuring that even if her efforts fail and the Lindworm eats her, she at least gets to be treated like a princess and live in a castle).

When the wedding day arrived, the royal chariot with 6 white horses fetch the girl and took her to the castle to be decked as a bride. Once there, she requests 10 snow-white shifts, a tub of lye, a tub of milk, and as many whips as a boy can carry in his arms. Of course, the ladies and courtiers see such demands were nothing but rubbish and nonsense peasant superstition. But the king says, “Let her have whatever she asks for.” She’s then arrayed with the loveliest of robes and looked the loveliest of brides before being led down the hall to the wedding ceremony where she saw the Lindworm for the first time coming in to stand by her side. So they’re married as a grand wedding reception is held that’s fit for a king’s son.


After the wedding, the newlyweds take to the prince’s bedroom. The prince asks his bride to strip. But she insists he shed his skin.

After the feast, the newlyweds are escorted to their apartment with music, torches, and a great procession. Once in the room, the lindworm tells his new wife to take off her dress, but she insists that he shed his skin for each dress she removes. So this goes until 9 Lindworm skins lay on the floor, each covered in a snow-white shift. And there’s nothing left of the Lindworm but a huge, thick mass, most horrible to see. The girl next seizes the whips, dips them in lye, and whips him as hard as she ever could. Once that’s done, she bathes him all over with fresh milk. Lastly, she drags him onto the bed and puts her arms around him before falling asleep at that moment. Very early the next morning, the king and his courtiers come peeping through the keyhole since they want to know what became of the girl. But none dare to enter the room. However, in the end, they creak the door open to see the girl all fresh and rosy while the loveliest young man lay beside her.


Here Prince Lindworm’s bride takes off her clothes as her new husband starts shedding his skin. And the dragon apparently likes what he sees.

Other Versions: Some versions include 2 roses instead of onions. Sometimes the peasant girl is a princess or omit the Lindworm’s twin brother. The soothsayer’s gender also varies. One version mentions that the Lindworm’s mom hurled the kid out the window as soon as it was born. An Indian version has the cursed prince born a monstrous fish and the girl helped by talking snakes. While some Asian variants have the girl sold to the Lindworm by her stepmother, usually in hope she gets devoured. And when she learns that her stepdaughter has married a king, she either kills herself or plots revenge.
Adaptations: Retold in comic form.
Why Forgotten: Given that the dragon prince eats some of his suitors and the fact a lot of the action takes place in a bedroom that involves a young woman getting naked with a dragon and whipping him, it’s not hard to see why this story will never have its own Disney movie.
Trivia: N/A

52. The Princess on the Glass Hill


The Princess on the Glass Hill is a Norwegian fairy tale in which the king challenges guys to climb the glass hill and fetch 3 golden apples. For the next 3 days, a mysterious knight on a horse pulls it off.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe.
Best Known Version: Asbjørnsen and Moe’s version obviously.
Synopsis: There was a farm with a field that would’ve been good for hay. Except after every St. John’s night all the grass would be eaten. For 2 years, the farmer’s 2 oldest sons stay up all night to guard the field but an earthquake scares them off. The youngest waits through 3 earthquakes and found that a horse in a brass suit of shining armor was eating the grass. He throws steel over the horse, giving him power over it. So he rides away to somewhere secret, telling his brothers that nothing had happened to him. He does it again the next year with the horse wearing silver armor and the next when its armor is gold.


Here the princess holds 3 golden apples on the glass mountain. Any man who can climb up the hill and get them gets the princess and part of the kingdom.

Meanwhile, the king has his daughter sit on a glass mountain and whoever climb it and get the golden apples out of her lap would marry her. All the men who came to try it slip and slide about. But a knight in a brass armor suit rides up the third of the way and rides back. The princess throws one of the apples to encourage him, but he still rides off. The next day it happened again but a knight in silver armor rides 2/3 of the way up the hill and the princess likes him better than the other. The third day, a knight in gold armor rides all the way up and takes the apple. But rides off immediately after. The king then summons all his nobles and knights but none of them have the golden apples. So he summons everyone in the kingdom. Still, no one had the apples. So the king demands who’s missing. The older brothers admitted that their younger brother hadn’t. So he’s fetched, produces the apples, and gets married off to the princess.

Nielsen princess_on_the_glass_hill

In this sketch, the princess wears a grand crown under a canopy. And yes, you can see the 3 golden apples in her arms.

Other Versions: Andrew Lang has a version in The Blue Fairy Book.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not exactly sure. Maybe because it’s not from Grimm.
Trivia: N/A

53. Prunella
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in The Grey Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, obviously.
Synopsis: A girl picks plumbs from a wild plum tree on her way to school, which earned her the name, “Prunella.” One day, a furious witch saw her and kidnaps her. The more beautiful Prunella grew, the more enraged the witch became. So she sends her with a basket to fetch water from the well. There, she meets the witch’s son Bensiabel who asks for a kiss from her in return for filling her basket. She refuses but he fills it up anyway. The next day, the witch gives her a sack of wheat with orders to make bread when she returned. Once again Bensiabel helps her despite her refusal to kiss him. The witch then sends Prunella to her sister to bring back a casket. Bensiabel gives her various things along the way before she has to take the casket and leave at once. When she does this, the witch tries getting the people on the way to stop her. But they refuse because Prunella gave them things but the witch didn’t. The witch then demands Prunella tell her what cocks crowed. Bensiabel hesitates to tell her once, in hopes of luring her to kiss him, and the witch comes to kill her. Bensiabel knocks her down the stairs, killing her. Now with her heart softened, Prunella agrees to marry him.

Other Versions: Italo Calvino’s version “Prezzemolina” has the girl get abducted over her mother’s craving of parsley and is abducted by fairies after her mom refuses to pay what she owed. While the witch is Morgan Le Fay and Bensiabel is Meme. Oh, and they both destroy the fairies before taking all their stuff and living in Morgan’s palace.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not exactly sure on this one.
Trivia: N/A

54. Puddocky


The German fairy tale Puddocky pertains to 3 princes fighting over a girl. But when she has an appetite for parsley, she turns into a frog.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers as “Cherry.”
Best Known Version: Well, it’s not the Grimm version.
Synopsis: 3 brother princes fight over who might marry a girl with an unnaturally great appetite for parsley that she especially steals some from a witch who eventually turns her into a frog. The king wants to know which son will best succeed him so he sets them on some tasks. The youngest prince sets out with the least and finds a frog offering him the sort of cloth the king desires. It exceeds his brothers’ discoveries and the king sends them to find either a dog that could fit in a walnut shell or an excellent gold ring. Again, the frog provides. For the third task, the king orders them to return with a bride. A frog turns into a maiden. The king picks the youngest to succeed him and marries his frog princess.

Other Versions: Retold in French by Madame d’Aulnoy as “The White Cat.” Depending on the version the frog either turns another frog into a maiden or she herself transforms into a bride.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not exactly sure.
Trivia: N/A

55. The Rose Tree
From: England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales.
Best Known Version: Well, the Jacobs version obviously.
Synopsis: A man has a daughter by his first wife and a son by his second. But the stepmother hated her stepdaughter. One day, when the girl’s bringing candles from the store a dog stole 3 times, the stepmother tricks her into letting her chop her head off. She then bakes the girl into a pie and feeds her body to her husband. Her son takes the leftovers and buries it under a rose tree. When it blooms in spring, a bird appears and sings a song so beautiful in it, a shoemaker gives her red shoes, a watchmaker a gold watch, and 3 millers a millstone. The bird flies to their home and rattles the stone on the roof. The boy runs out and she drops the shoes on his feet. She rattles again, the man runs out and she drops the watch at its feet. She then rattles a third time, the stepmother runs out and she drops the millstone so she dies.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Contains decapitation, cannibalism, and murder.
Trivia: N/A

56. Schippeitaro


The Japanese tale Schippeitaro is about a dog who fights cat demons. Though the animals may vary depending on version.

From: Japan
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in The Violet Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang translation is the best known.
Synopsis: A young man sets out on an adventure, meets and fights bandits, but finds nothing to make himself famous. One day, he gets lost in a great forest and takes shelter in a small chapel. At midnight, dancing cat spirits rouse him warning each other, “Do not tell Schippeitaro!” The next day, the young man finds a village and a woman weeping over being chosen as a sacrifice to the Spirit of the Mountain. He asks of Schippeitaro and learns it’s a dog whose owner is nearby. He persuades the owner to lend him the dog and convinces the maiden’s parents to shut her up in a closet and let Schippeitaro into the cask where the sacrifice is offered. The demon cats reappear in the chapel. The biggest one opens the casket. Out Schippeitaro kills it. Afterwards, he and the young man kill many more. No more sacrifices are made ever since as the villagers rejoice over the young man and Schippeitaro.

Other Versions: Animals demons can vary by version. One features illustrations of a fox, wolf, hare, and raccoon dog.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: It’s from Japan and involves a dog killing demon cats.
Trivia: N/A

57. The Seven Foals


The Seven Foals is a Norwegian fairy tale about a young man who has to tend and follow 7 horses. And I wouldn’t recommend he stop by the old lady.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, of course.
Synopsis: A poor couple has 3 sons. The youngest just sits about poking in the ashes. When the oldest goes to the king and asks for a job, the monarch assigns him to watch his 7 foals all day. And if he could tell where they go, he’d receive the princess and half the kingdom. If he fails, the king cuts 3 red strips out of his back. He agrees. But after chasing the foals through rugged lands, an old woman calls him to stop with her and he does. She gives him water and turf, which he claimed the foals eat and drank. The king has 3 strips taken out. The next brother tries as well and comes to the same end.
The youngest goes and has a time to persuade the king since he was their brother. But unlike the others, he succeeds. When the old woman calls to him, he runs on. One of the foals then tells him to ride on his back. They ride on and come to a tree with a room inside containing a sword and flask. The foals have him try the sword and when he can’t, drink from the flask until he could. They then tell him to cut off their heads on his wedding day, which will turn them back into men. Since they’re the king’s sons.


Here the foals tell the young man to wield a sword and drink from the flask if he can’t. Also, the foals are all princes.

Afterwards, they go on and cross a river leading to the chapel where they become men. A priest gives them wine and bread and the youngest son took some to show the king. When he does, the king agrees he’s triumphed and they hold a wedding. The youngest son cuts off the foals’ heads as agreed, brings them in, and there’s much rejoicing. The king then declares him his heir since his sons can now get lands of their own.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, having 3 strips taken out from one’s back must not be pleasant.
Trivia: N/A

58. The Seven Ravens


The Grimms’ tale The Seven Ravens, 7 brothers are turned into, well, ravens and fly off. Years later, their little sister goes off to find them.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: Obviously the Grimm version.
Synopsis: Desperate for a daughter, a family of 7 sons finally gets their wish. But she’s sickly. So worried for her soul, her dad sends her brothers to fetch water from a well for baptism. However, in their eagerness to obey, they accidentally drop the jug in the well. After some time passes, the dad believes they’re playing instead of cowering away from his potential wrath. So he cries out that he “wants all the boys to become ravens” (though he probably doesn’t mean it). Unbeknownst to him, the boys actually become ravens and fly into the sky. The girl eventually gets better. She grows up not knowing that she has brothers until she eventually hears people gossiping about them. Taking one of her parents’ rings, she goes out to find them. She meets the Sun and the Moon, but they both scare her off. But then she meets the kindly stars with the Northstar giving her a small bone that she’ll need and tells her brothers live in a glass mountain.


Here the girl meets to ask the stars about her brothers’ whereabouts. She’s told to follow the NorthStar.

Though the girl finds the glass mountain, she loses the bone. The mountain door is locked so she cuts off her finger to use as a key. She meets a dwarf informing her that the ravens will soon return. While she waits, she finds a dinner table set for the ravens and eats a bit from all plates. But her parents’ ring falls from the last flask she drinks from. Her brothers fly back, examine the mess she made, and fiddle with the flask. The ring falls out and the ravens recognize it. One of them prays to God that if their sister was in the mountain, they’d be saved from the curse. Hearing this and since their sister is hanging around, the curse is lifted.

Other Versions: In some versions when the girl goes to the Moon in trying to find her brothers, only to realize that the Moon eats kids. Luckily she escapes before it has a chance to feast on her.
Adaptations: Adapted into an opera.
Why Forgotten: Includes minor body mutilation.
Trivia: N/A

59. Sir Aldingar
From: England
Earliest Appearance: Child Ballad #59. Collected by Francis Child.
Best Known Version: The Child version, of course.
Synopsis: After a failed attempt at seducing the queen, Sir Aldingar puts a leper in her bed and accuses her of cheating to the king. The king orders them both executed. But the queen demands a trial by combat if she could get a champion. A messenger in search of one gets sent by what resembles a 4-year-old boy. Anyway, despite the overwhelming likelihood of getting his ass kicked or suffering a fate akin to Oberyn Martell, the boy mortally wounds Sir Aldingar in a fight. Aldingar confesses. The king and queen reconcile. While the leper is miraculously cured and serves as the king’s steward.

Other Versions: Some versions have the king and queen as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Some variants have the queen’s hair unkempt and infested with mice while in prison.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Even the writers of Game of Thrones would find the idea of a preschooler defeating a grown man in a fight as completely ridiculous.
Trivia: N/A

60. The Six Servants


Collected by the Grimm Brothers, the story revolves around a prince with 6 superpowered servants completing impossible tasks to win a princess. Seems more like the X-Men going through a series of impossible tests so Professor X can get a fancy new car.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A king and queen order a prince perform 3 impossible tasks before a deadline so he could marry a princess. He receives aid from 6 exceptionally gifted mutants he meets on his travels. These include:

Servant #1: Has a very long, stretchable neck and can see things at great distance.

Servant #2: Has large ears that can hear even tiny sounds from great distance.

Servant #3: Has eyes of such destructive power that he uses a blindfold to prevent himself from looking at things and accidentally destroying them. Except unlike Cyclops, his eyes shoot out like bullets, not lasers.

Servant #4: Is hot when it’s cold and is cold when it’s hot, basically making him a lizard man in human skin.

Servant #5: A colossal obese man who can eat lots of food.

Servant #6: Is extremely fast that he has to tie a leg behind his back to slow himself down. Basically, an ancestor of The Flash.

The first task is to recover a ring that the queen dropped in the river. Servant #1 sees the ring. Servant #5 drinks the entire river dry while Servant #6 gets the ring and brings it back to the palace. The second task involves 300 oxen and drinking 300 barrels of wine. The prince is allowed to bring one servant with him and of course, it’s Servant #5. While the third task the prince has to spend the night with the princess without falling asleep. Or at least stay up with her until midnight when the queen checks to see whether the princess is still lying in his arms. If not, he loses. Despite precautions, the prince falls asleep anyway. While the princess gets abducted and taken to a faraway hiding place. The prince and his servants eventually wake up. Servant #1 quickly discovers where the princess is kept as Servant #6 and Servant #3 rush to the location where the latter instantly destroys a rock behind where the princess is hidden. And they bring her back just in time the queen arrives to check if the princess is still in the prince’s arms.

As soon as the queen discovers what happened, she orders 300 trucks of wood lit in the flames. Only when someone can sit in the fire can the prince marry the princess. Thus, Servant #4 steps forward and manages to freeze the flames out, still feeling chilly in the process. Despite the marriage being settled at this point, the evil queen sends her troops after them, which Servant #2 pays attention to. Servant #5 blows wind through one of his nostrils, thus beating the soldiers. While Servant #3 carries on a mass slaughter. And with that, they all live happily ever after.

Other Versions: Some versions have Servant #6 fall asleep during the assignment while the others nervously wait for him. Servant #1 stretches his neck and sees him whereupon Servant #3 shoots a fly sitting on a branch of the tree Servant #6 sleeps under, waking him up and sending him to the palace. Sometimes the queen cast a spell on the prince and his servants on the third task. And sometimes Servant #5 spits out a large flood of seawater instead of blowing wind through his nostrils.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, it’s well-known in the Netherlands since Servant #1 is a theme park mascot there. Then again, a story like this seems more suitable for a comic book, not a fairy tale. Also, modern American audiences would view these servants as epic underachievers and think they should be fighting crime instead of helping their master get a princess.
Trivia: N/A

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 5 – King Thrushbeard to Pintosmalto


You might notice that a lot of these fairy tales revolve around royalty. Of course, this isn’t very much of a coincidence. Since back in the day, kings were usually the guys with all the power and wealth in the land. While a prince or princess was the dream spouse anyone would want since they’re probably hot as hell and come with a castle as well as large tracts of land. Of course, in reality, there was no way for an ordinary person to land a prince or princess since their daddy really wanted that alliance with France. Anyway, in this installment, I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, is a Grimm story about a king who puts a princess in her place. Second, is an Indian tale of a king who goes out of his way to keep his daughter from marrying a slave’s son, only to epically fail. Third, we come to an English fairy tale about a prince and the world’s worst personal assistant. Then we have a couple of Italian tales about finding a dream girl in an orange and creating a dream guy by oneself. Next, is a French story about 3 wishes wasted. After that is a Scottish tale of a young girl who tricks a giant into killing his whole family followed by a story of a Japanese folk hero and his animal friends. Then, we find a tale by Hans Christen Andersen about a Chinese Emperor and a bird in his garden. And lastly, we hear an African story about a young woman who gets her hand cut off.

41. King Thrushbeard


The Grimms’ tale King Thrushbeard pertains to a bitchy princess who rejects royal suitor until her dad gets fed up and marries her off to the first guy she shows up. One of these rejects is King Thrushbeard and he’ll teach her a lesson.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: A king has a daughter so beautiful that available kings and princes come from miles in hopes of winning her hand in marriage. But despite her beauty, the princess is also proud, arrogant, and constantly insults and rejects her suitors. She’s particularly cruel to one young handsome young king, calling him “King Thrushbeard” because of his long thick beard. Finally, her dad loses patience with his rude daughter and declared that since she’s rejected every man who’s come to court her, he’ll marry her off to the first beggar at the gate. The next day, a clean-shaven minstrel arrives at the palace and the king likes his music so much that he marries the guy to his daughter. The princess is angry with the whole thing but doesn’t have a choice in the matter. As she and her new husband depart, they pass by lands and properties belonging to “King Thrushbeard.”


Here the princess is about to get married off to a minstrel arriving at the castle. Let’s say she’ll be in for a lot of crap for awhile.

The princess starts to regret rejecting him, especially when her new home turns out to be nothing more than a wooden shack. Now forced to work, the princess proves completely incompetent at household tasks like weaving and spinning. She has some success at selling pottery until a drunken soldier smashes her stall. Finally, she’s forced to work as a scullery maid in King Thrusbeard’s palace with the only benefit being that she could take home food scraps for herself and her husband. One day, the palace holds a great party to celebrate the King Thrushbeard’s engagement. The princess watches behind the curtain until King Thrushbeard discovers her himself. Despite her attempts to escape, he pulls her onto the dance floor and all the food she’s hidden in her apron spills out. Completely and utterly embarrassed, the princess tries to flee, but the king stops her. He then reveals himself as the beggar she married and the soldier who destroyed her stall. He put her through the ordeal to cure her proud ways and punish her haughtiness. With that, they marry and live happily ever after.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Retold several times and made into at least 2 movies.
Why Forgotten: It’s basically The Taming of the Shrew taken to the extreme. Seriously, King Thrushbeard makes Petruchio seem like an amateur.
Trivia: N/A

42. The King Who Would be Stronger Than Fate


The Indian tale, The King Who Would Be Stronger Than Fate pertains to a king who tries to get rid of a slave’s son destined to marry his daughter. Naturally, he fails spectacularly.

From: India
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang for The Brown Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version.
Synopsis: A king has a beautiful daughter and loves hunting. When chasing a white stag, he gets very lost in the woods before stumbling on a hermit. After the king presses him, the hermit tells him that his daughter’s fated to marry a slave girl’s son. He immediately treats with the king who owns her and having been given both the woman and her son, takes them to the wilderness killing the woman and abandoning the baby. However, a poor widow without a family lives in that wilderness with her goats. But she wonders what she’ll do if ill or injured. One day, her best nanny goat doesn’t yield a drop of milk. After this happens over a few days, she follows it finding a baby with his dead mom. She buries the woman and takes in the baby to help her in her old age. He grows up into a brave, handsome, and industrious young man.


During a siesta at the governor’s mansion, the princess wanders into the garden and finds the handsome soldier. Thinking he’s hot, she reads a letter from her dad ordering his execution. She changes the message and reworks the message so that she can snag her man. Still, this image is so whitewashed.

One day, he finds the peddler’s donkey eating their cabbages. So he beats it, defending himself to his neighbor. The neighbor exaggerates, claiming he’s threatened the peddler. And the king (who’s been the peddler in disguise) has him arrested on the pretense that even a poor peddler could have justice in his lands. He realizes who he is because his adopted mother is too old. Then he tells the young man that he could receive a pardon if he joins the army since he looks like a good soldier and could use some discipline. Once in, the young man is sent on many dangerous missions, which he survives. Then the king tries having him poisoned, but a dog eats some of his food first, alerting him. Finally, the king sends him off with a message to a governor (whose wife the princess is visiting).
The young man arrives with the message. But he’s told the governor is sleeping and will receive him in the evening. He then goes to sleep in the garden. But the princess isn’t a fan of daytime siestas so she pretends to do so in order for her ladies to sleep. So she can wander as she pleases. She comes upon the young man and is so taken with his looks. She then steals the message to find it orders his execution. She alters it to say they should marry at once. Being one of the king’s most faithful servants, the governor carries out the wedding. The king is much distressed but learns to stop fighting fate. He then accepts his son-in-law, who becomes his heir after he dies.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: For one, unless you live in India, you’ve probably never heard of it. Still, nonwestern folk tales don’t usually have much of a reception in the western world. Still, this would make a pretty good Disney movie. Besides, the title is misleading since the king is not stronger than fate.
Trivia: N/A

43. The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward
From: England
Earliest Appearance: First printed in 1580. Derived from the chivalric romance Roswall and Lillian.
Best Known Version: Appears as Child Ballad #21. Collected by Francis Child.
Synopsis: The young lord of Lorn is sent abroad to study languages. But the servant who went with him and sworn to keep him safe tries to murder him. But he only lets him off on the promise to never reveal the truth to any man or woman. The lord lands a job as a shepherd. Presenting himself as the lord, the steward wins the Duke of France’s daughter. She sees the lord one day and offers him a job. But the steward objects due to his lowliness. So the duke puts him in the stables. One day, after a horse kicks him, the lord rebukes it, telling it if it only knew who it was kicking. The duke’s daughter overhears it, asks him to explain. When he refuses, she has him sit down and tell it to the horse. He does. The duke’s daughter puts off the wedding and sends a letter to his dad, who arrives with great force. The steward is captured and is executed as he had sworn to be when he failed to guard the young lord (and boy, did he blow that). The young lord and daughter marry.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not exactly sure.
Trivia: Played to the tune of “Greensleeves.”

44. The Love of Three Oranges
From: Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, and France.
Earliest Appearance: Oldest version came from Italy as “The Three Citrons.” Collected by Giambattista Basile in the Pentamerone.
Best Known Version: The second Italian version since it bears the familiar title.
Synopsis: A prince is on a quest to find a wife. He finds a place where he receives 3 oranges (or citrons or other fruit). But he’s instructed not to break them open until he has some water. When he breaks them open, a beautiful woman appears and asks for water. Twice he fails, she either dies or disappears. But the third time, he finally gives her water and wins her. The prince then leaves her by a spring (or other body of water) so she can be properly brought to his father. While he’s gone, an ugly slave sees the reflection, takes it as her own, and decides she’s too pretty to be a slave. She then realizes the beautiful woman is there and tricks her into letting her transform into a bird by driving a pin into her head. When the prince returns, she claims to have been magically transformed and the prince dutifully returns with her. The bird interferes with the wedding festivities. Someone catches her and draws out the pin revealing the truth. The slave is punished and the prince marries the woman.

Other Versions: Has multiple variants such as the Portuguese “The Three Citrons of Love” and the French “The Enchanted Canary.” Also has a Czech version called “The Three Citrons.” Many versions mention the slave girl being beaten by her mistress as if it was no big deal. While most of the older versions spend a disturbing amount of time describing how disappointed everyone is by the mere fact she has black skin. Also, in Basile’s version the first 2 orange maidens are restored in the end. In other variants, the slave kills the woman and she returns as a bird ghost. While the oldest version depicts the woman with red hair.
Adaptations: Adapted into an opera by Sergei Prokofiev.
Why Forgotten: This is a widespread fairy tale in Europe with several variants. But it might have some unsettling aspects depending on version.
Trivia: N/A

45. The Ludicrous Wishes


Perrault’s tale The Ludicrous Wishes revolves around a guy saving some magic creature’s life and are granted 3 wishes. Those wishes are wasted over one dinner.

From: France
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Charles Perrault.
Best Known Version: Obviously, the Perrault version.
Synopsis: A down on his luck woodcutter is granted 3 wishes by a magical entity for his help in a time of need. Anyway, the woodcutter goes home and his wife persuades him to put off wishing until the next day. But while sitting by the fire, he wishes for sausages. His wife taxed him for his folly. So he wishes for a sausage in her nose. Finally, they agree to use the last wish to take the sausage off her nose, leaving them no better off than before.

Other Versions: Magical entity can be the God Jupiter, a fish whose life he spared, or a tree spirit. Some versions use black pudding instead.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: It’s short and doesn’t have much of a plot.
Trivia: N/A

46. Molly Whuppie


In the Scottish Molly Whuppie, a young girl tricks her giant captor into murdering his family. Granted she and her sisters were held hostage, but still it’s pretty disturbing.

From: Scotland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Joseph Jacobs in his English Fairy Tales. Main inspiration was the Scottish “Maol a Chliobain” printed in 1862 in John Francis Campbell’s Popular Tales of the West Highlands.
Best Known Version: The Jacobs version.
Synopsis: Molly is the youngest and cleverest of 3 daughters who were turned out of their home because there was nothing to eat. They take shelter with a giant and his wife who initially accept them with kindness before attempting to kill them in their sleep. The quick-witted Molly arranges that the giant slay his own 3 kids instead. So that night, the girls escape to the king’s palace. Impressed by the story, the king sends Molly on 3 successive errands to steal a treasure from the giant. She’s caught on the third try, but she escapes death by her wits, causing the giant to murder his hapless wife. When the giant gives chase, he can’t cross the narrow bridge over the river and must futilely rage from the other bank. As a reward for her efforts, Molly and her older sisters marry the king’s 3 sons.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not sure. Maybe the fact it involves a girl tricking a giant into killing his family.
Trivia: N/A

47. Momotaro


The Japanese tale Momotaro revolves around a man who fights oni with his animal friends. Due to its popularity in the country, the story was often used in Japanese WWII propaganda.

From: Japan
Earliest Appearance: Appeared as early as the Edo period.
Best Known Version: It’s hard to say since there are variants by region.
Synopsis: Momotaro is born when an old woman washing clothes discovers a peach floating down the river. She takes the peach home to share with her husband but when they open it, they discover a child inside. They name him Momotaro and raise him as their son. After he grows older, Momotaro decides to fight an oni band Onigashima (Demon Island) who’ve been robbing nearby villages. His parents give him a sword and a pouch of kibi-dango (a type of sweet dumpling) for his journey. On the way, he meets 3 talking animals, a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. In exchange for their help in fighting the oni, he gives them a kibi-dango. They reach Onigashima and attack the oni’s fortress. The oni surrender, return all the treasure they stole, and promise not to steal anymore.


Here we have Momotaro with his animal friends kicking some oni ass. Funny how the critters are wearing kimonos.

Other Versions: In an older version the old couple eat a giant peach making them young again that they have sex to celebrate and have son named “Taro.” Another older version depicts Momotaro as lazy. These aspects were changed to make the story more publishable to children during the 19th century.
Adaptations: His story has been adapted numerous times in various media, particularly anime and manga.
Why Forgotten: It’s actually very popular in Japan that it was used in Japanese WWII propaganda in the 1940s. Not so much anywhere else.
Trivia: Depicted in Japanese propaganda during World War II. There’s even a Momotaro festival, too.

48. The Nightingale


Written by Hans Christen Andersen, The Nightingale revolves around a Chinese Emperor and a bird who could sing so sweet in his garden. He takes the bird and puts it in a gilded cage.

From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Written by Hans Christian Andersen first published in 1843.
Best Known Version: There’s only one version.
Synopsis: In Imperial China, the Emperor learns that one of the most beautiful sounds on Earth is that of the nightingale, one of which happens to live in his own gardens. Though initially put off by the plain bird’s appearance, he’s so delighted by her song that he brings her into his palace as a permanent “guest.” However, by and by, his engineers produce a bejeweled mechanical bird, quickly attracting the Emperor and court’s attention. As they play the mechanical bird nearly to the point of breakdown, the real nightingale returns to the garden. Then the Emperor falls ill, to the point where his successor his chosen and the Grim Reaper is sitting at his bedside. In despair he cries that if he could only turn the key of the mechanical bird and hear its song one more time, he’d have the strength to fight back. At that moment, the real nightingale bursts into song from his window, restoring his strength and shaming Death into departing. From then on, she tells the Emperor, she will not live as his prisoner but will still frequently return to tell him what’s happening in his empire, so he’ll be known as the wisest emperor ever to live.


Here the sick Emperor lies as Death comes over him. If only he could hear the song of the precious nightingale one more time.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Adapted to an opera, ballet, TV drama, and animated film.
Why Forgotten: Overshadowed by Andersen’s more famous works like The Snow Queen and The Little Mermaid. Also, no princesses or queens. Then there’s the fact it’s set in China but it’s clear that Andersen isn’t familiar with the fact that nightingales don’t live there. And let’s say the illustrations aren’t very flattering to Chinese people either.
Trivia: Also known as “The Chinese Nightingale” and “The Emperor and the Nightingale.” Believed to be inspired by Andersen’s unrequited love for Jenny Lind (who contrary to The Greatest Showman did not have an affair with P.T. Barnum).

49. The One-Handed Girl


The One-Handed Girl is a Swahili fairy tale about a young woman continuously abused by her brother that she eventually loses her hand. She then flees into the forest and marries a prince.

From: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in The Lilac Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, obviously.
Synopsis: A dying man offers the choice between his property and his blessing. The son wants his property, the daughter his blessing. Then their mother did the same. The son let his sister only have a pot and a vessel she can clean corn in. She supported herself by letting the villagers borrow her pot and did well and even planted a pumpkin seed. Envious, her brother stole them. But the pumpkin vine did well, she sold pumpkins, and lived on that. When her sister-in-law tries buying one, the sister gave her one for nothing. But when she tried buying another the next day, they were all gone. So she told her husband that his sister had refused to sell her one. The brother cuts the vine down to punish her. She tries to protect it by throwing herself in the way, he cuts off her hand as well before selling the home she lived in.


Here the One-Handed Girl befriends a snake who tells her to bathe her baby in the pool. I know these illustrations are incredibly whitewashed for an African fairy tale.

The sister flees into the forest to hide from her brother. 7 days later, a king’s son found her there, fell in love, and married her. They have a baby. Then the king’s son had to go on a journey. In the meantime, her brother hears that the prince’s bride only has one hand, and guesses it’s his sister. He tells the king and his wife that she’s a witch who killed 3 husbands, lost her hand, and had been exiled for it. The sister’s in-laws exile her again, with her baby. In the forest, she sees a snake and sits very still when it begs her to let it hide in her pot. After another snake passes by, it brings her with him and tells her to bathe her baby in the pool. She loses the baby and searches around with her hand. The snake tells her to use the other arm. She does, finding her baby and her hand being restored. Then it brought her to its parents, who keep her as a guest because she saved their son.


After gaining her hand, the snake invites the formerly One-Handed Girl and her son to stay with his family. Unlike many fairy tales, the snake is a benevolent figure for once.

Meanwhile, the king’s son falls ill and takes a long time to return home. When he comes back, he’s shown 2 graves as if for his wife and child. After a time, the daughter wants to return home. On the snake’s advice, she asks for its dad’s ring and its mom’s casket, which would feed and protect her from harm. Using them, she got herself a fine house. The king, his wife, and their son come to visit, bringing along her brother. The daughter recounted her tale and is reunited with her husband. The brother is exiled.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, it’s from Africa. Fairy Tales from there take much longer to write down. Not to mention, it’s hard to tell if the Lang’s version is somewhat sanitized or the genuine article since he lived in the 19th century.
Trivia: N/A

50. Pintosmalto


The Italian fairy tale Pintosmalto focuses on a young merchant’s daughter named Betta who creates her own dream guy. And then has to rescue him.

From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Written by Giambattista Basile in Il Pentamerone from 1634. It’s basically a reverse Pygmalion and Galatea.
Best Known Version: Basile’s obviously.
Synopsis: A merchant wants his daughter, Betta to marry. She tells him to bring her a hundredweight of Palermo sugar, a hundredweight of almonds, 4-6 bottles of scented water, a little musk and amber, 40 pearls, 2 sapphires, a few rubies and garnets, some gold thread, a trough, and a little silver trowel. When he did so, Betta used them to mold a statue of a man. She then prayed to the goddess of Love and he came to life. She named him Pintosmalto and they marry at once. However, a queen in attendance abducts him.

Betta sets out to follow. She stumbles upon an old woman who takes pity on her and teaches 3 sayings that could help her. She went on and finds the land. When she sees Pintosmalto, she tried the first. A self-moving golden coach appears, with which she bribes the queen to let her sleep the night at the door of Pintosmalto room. The queen agrees but drugs Pintosmalto so that Betta can’t speak to him. She tried again with the next saying and a golden bird that sang like a nightingale appears. But the result is the same as before. The next day, a cobbler tells Pintosmalto of all the weeping he hears So the next night, when Betta bribes her way in with scarves, he’s awake. Taking what Betta used to bribe her way and some more treasure, the couple instantly flees, leaving the queen enraged.

Other Versions: Folk variants are found in many Mediterranean countries. Italo Calvino’s version has Betta a princess who makes Pintosmalto from flour and takes 6 months for her to create him. Also, she’s aided by 3 hermits giving her nuts to crack.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Sexism might have something to do with it. Since men see no qualms about objectifying women and fantasizing about creating a woman for themselves. But men like Pintosmalto are female fantasy figures that may turn men off.
Trivia: N/A

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 4 – The Goose Girl to Kate Crackernuts


Fairy tales have been among us for hundreds of years passing onto each generation. While it’s obvious to note that these stories are incredibly ancient, they come in several variants depending on region and culture. When it comes to fairy tales we read, the versions most familiar to us usually aren’t the ones initially written on the page. Often the earliest versions usually feature content that aren’t suited for kids. They may contain violence meant to scare the kids into behaving or sexual innuendo. In this installment, we’ll look at 10 more forgotten fairy tales. First, there are Grimm tales of a goose girl, a wild man, a hedgehog, and two star-crossed lovers. Second, we’ll look a Hungarian story about helpful animal friends. Third, we come to a Perrault tale on how a little boy tricks a giant into murdering his family. Next are 2 English stories about a giant killer and a prince who can’t stop dancing followed by a Scandinavian tale on a guy who herded rabbits. And finally, a Czech story on a guy going against some hostile witches.

31. The Goose Girl


The Goose Girl is a Grimm fairy tale about a young princess who gets cheated by a maid and is compelled to work as a goose girl at the palace. But not to worry, she gets to socialize with a disembodied talking horse head on the castle’s wall.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm brothers.
Best Known Version: Probably the Andrew Lang translation in The Blue Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A widowed queen sends her beautiful only daughter off to marry a prince she’s engaged to. But before leaving, the mom presents her with a small token providing magical protection along with a magical talking horse named Falada. However, the maid accompanying the princess treats her like utter crap. So when circumstances cause the princess to lose her token, the maid seizes the opportunity to force her into trading places. She makes the princess switch clothes with her and tries to ride Falada. But Falada isn’t having it so the evil maid has to keep using her ordinary horse instead. And to make it stick, the maid threatens to kill the real princess unless she vows never to tell any living soul what happened.

Arriving in the prince’s kingdom, the false princess says that Falada is an ill-tempered mount and demands that he be killed (so he can’t reveal the truth). Also, she wants the true princess nowhere near her and lets the king make her any servant he pleases. Grieving for Falada’s death, the true princess manages to convince the groom to have the horse’s head mounted above one of the palace gates where she can still see it every day. Since the true princess is too lovely and delicate for hard work, they send her out with the goose boy. In the morning and evening, she sighs over her horse’s head and it responds. When she tries combing her blonde hair which the goose boy thinks it’s real gold and tries to steal some, she says a little rhyme to summon the wind to blow the boy’s cap away, making him chase it and letting the princess comb her hair in peace.


As a goose girl, the princess has a habit of combing her long blond hair to the goose boy’s annoyance. So much so that the goose boy thinks it’s real gold and tries stealing some.

After 3 days, the goose boy complains that he won’t work with the new goose girl anymore. When the king hears word of it (who’s not at all impressed by the false princess), he seeks her out. Unfortunately, she can’t speak of her misfortunes to any living creature. So he kindly suggests she spill her guts on the stove in the palace kitchen. When she does that, the king sneaks up to the roof and listens at the chimney in order to hear the truth. Now aware of the deception, he sends the true princess to the royal household to be dressed properly before bringing her to the great banquet. Her appearance is so fine that not even the false princess recognizes her. The king then asks the guests what would be a fitting punishment for someone who’s deceived everyone around them and proceeds to describe the situation without revealing anyone’s identity. He next turns to the false princess for her opinion and she recommends an exceptionally cruel and gruesome execution. So he condemns her to that very death she suggested, introduces the true princess to his son, and the young couple are delighted with each other that they marry the next day.

Other Versions: Token can be a lock of the mother’s hair or handkerchief with 3 drops of her blood on it, depending on version. Also, some versions have the mother as a fairy or other magical being who restores all the princess’ fortunes once she’s married, including resurrecting the dead horse. Andrew Lang also has a version in The Blue Fairy Book.
Adaptations: Retold in the Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale.
Why Forgotten: Contains a magical talking horse head. Also doesn’t portray commoners in a positive light.
Trivia: During the 13th century, the tale was attached to Bertrada of Laon, mother of Charlemagne.

32. The Grateful Beasts
From: Hungary
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Herman Kletke
Best Known Version: Probably the Andrew Lang translation in The Yellow Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A poor couple sends their 3 sons out to find their fortunes. The youngest, Ferko is exceptionally handsome that his older brothers think everyone will like him, leaving them with no chance of success anywhere. So they trick Ferko into letting them break his legs and put out his eyes before abandoning him to his fate. However, he stumbles under a gallows tree where he overhears 2 ravens talking about the medicinal properties relating to the dew falling on the hill and the lake below it. Somehow, Ferko manages to make his way to the hill and uses the dew to heal his own injuries as well as save a wolf, a mouse, and a queen bee.

Ferko then finds his way to the royal court where his brothers have entered into service. Stunned of his well-being, the cruel brothers persuade the king that Ferko is an evil magician and recommend that he demand him to complete an impossible task and kill him if he fails. The king orders Ferko to build a castle more beautiful than his own. Ferko turns to the queen bee who arranges the castle’s construction. Ferko’s brothers then persuade the king to send him on a second impossible task, against the kindhearted princess’ wishes. Since she’s fallen in love with the guy. This time he must gather all the kingdom’s harvested grain and put it into the barns. The mouse summons all the kingdom’s mice and they do it all for him. More determined to see him fail, Ferko’s brothers incite the king to demand a third impossible task, which he does. He orders Ferko to summon all the kingdom’s wolves. When the princess bursts into tears and protests this demand, he locks her up in a tower. So she’s not there when Ferko’s wolf friend calls out all the kingdom’s wolves to convene upon the court, which they do. And when they come, they’re hungry. Let’s just say the encounter between the royal court and the wolves doesn’t go well for the court. Ferko releases the princess from the tower, marries her, and becomes king.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, it has a bunch of people eaten by wolves in the end.
Trivia: N/A

33. Hans the Hedgehog


The Grimm fairy tale Hans the Hedgehog starts out as a charming tale about a humanoid hedgehog guy who plays the bagpipes and rides a rooster. Then it gets really dark real fast when the first princess rejects him.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A wealthy peasant has one grief in life that he and his wife have no child. One day, he’s had enough of the other peasants mocking him that he declares, “I will have a child, even if it be a hedgehog.” Sure enough, his wife gives birth do a hedgehog-human hybrid, leaving the parents horrified. Christened as “Hans the Hedgehog,” he can’t be nursed because of his quills and receives a small bed behind a stove where he lounges around for 8 years. Until one day, he asks his dad to bring him a set of bagpipes from the fair. Hans then tells him to have a rooster shod at the blacksmith’s, promising to leave and never come back. His dad is only too happy to do so and Hans leaves riding his rooster, taking some pigs and donkeys with him. He next spends years in the woods, tending to his growing herd and making beautiful music on his bagpipes while perched on his rooster on a tree branch.

Time passes and 2 kings find their way into the woods. They both notice Hans the Hedgehog and ask him to show them a way out of the forest to their respective kingdoms. Before doing so, Hans has each king promise that they’ll give him the first thing they meet when they come home in exchange. As it happens, each king is greeted by his daughter on returning to the royal palace. The first king tells of his encounter with Hans the Hedgehog but assures her that he’s not going to uphold his empty promise. The princess is totally okay with it for she wouldn’t want to be with a mutant hedgehog man anyway. On the other hand, the second king is dismayed but his daughter tells him if Hans comes, she’ll go to him out of her love for her dad. Hans sets off to get his reward and you really don’t want to cross him.

The first king refuses to hand over his daughter. But Hans forces him to yield her, threatening to kill them both if he doesn’t. After the king outfitted the first princess for marriage, she leaves with Hans. However, after traveling a short distance from the city, Hans has her clothes taken off, pierced her with his quills until she bled all over, and sends her back to the kingdom in disgrace. The second king agrees to the marriage and the princess fells bound by her dad’s promise so Hans marries her. On their wedding night, he tells the king to build a fire and post guards at his door. Hans then sheds his hedgehog skin and has the guards throw it in the fire. After doctors clean him up, he’s shown to be a handsome young gentleman. After several years, Hans returns home to collect his parents and they live together in the kingdom.

Other Versions: Many versions usually leave out what Hans does to the princess who rejects him.
Adaptations: Adapted into a children’s book in 2012.
Why Forgotten: Its resolution is so crude, violent, and sexist that its original plot is essentially unusable for modern children’s books. Seriously, if it weren’t for that, he’d be a stuffed animal.
Trivia: N/A

34. Hop-o’-My-Thumb


The French Hop o’ My Thumb is a tale about a small boy who is way smarter for his size. Still, that doesn’t stop his parents from sending him and his brothers in the woods.

From: France
Earliest Appearance: Written down by Charles Perrault in 1697.
Best Known Version: William Godwin’s 1804 version (funny, since his daughter wrote Frankenstein).
Synopsis: A poor woodchopper and his wife decide to abandon their 7 sons in the forest because they can’t feed them. The youngest is called “Hop-o’-My-Thumb.” Despite his small size, he’s very smart. When he hears about his parents’ plans, he goes outside to collect pebbles to put in his pocket. in the middle of the night. That way, when the parents take the boys to the woods, Hop-o’-My-Thumb throws a pebble trail so they can find their way back. He does the same thing when the parents abandon the kids a second time. But the third time, they lock the door and Hop-o’-My-Thumb can’t collect pebbles so he has to resort to bread crumbs. Yet, the birds eat everything.


Hop o’ My Thumb and his brothers stop by at a giant’s house where they bunk for the night. But the giant has an appetite for human children so they can’t stay long.

When all hope is lost, Hop-o’-My-Thumb and his brothers and his brothers see a light in the distance. Walking towards it, they discover a house. After they knock, a woman opens the door but warns the children that her husband is a man-eating giant. Hop-o’-My-Thumb explains their situation resulting in the woman to take pity on them so she lets the kids in. When the giant arrives home, he discovers the children and plans to devour them. His wife convinces him to wait until the next morning to which the giant agrees. The woman brings the children to a bedroom where the giant’s 7 daughters also spend the night. That night, Hop-o’-My-Thumb fears the giant might come out and get them and he switches his brothers’ hats with the crowns on the giant’s daughters’ heads. As expected, the giant gets hungry and leaves his bed to kill the kids. But in the dark, he has to find them through touch. When he feels the crowns Hop-o’-My-Thumb placed on their heads, he mistakes them for his daughters and leaves them alone. Then he goes to his daughters, feels their hats and slits their throats in their sleep. After that, he unknowingly goes back to bed, planning to eat them the next morning.


After tricking the giant into killing his kids, Hop o’ My Thumb takes off his “seven mile boots.” When all’s done, you have to feel bad for the giant’s wife.

Hop-o’-My-Thumb wakes up his brothers and they flee back into the forest. The next morning, the giant discovers he’s been tricked and starts chasing them with his magical “seven mile boots,” allowing the wearer to cross great distances within a short amount of time. Unable to find them, he decides to take a nap, right next to the tree where Hop-o’-My-Thumb and his brothers are hiding. During the giant’s rest, Hop-o’-My-Thumb tells the others to run back home while he steals the giant’s boots and runs back to the giant’s house. There, he tells the wife that robbers kidnapped her husband and that she should give Hop-o’-My-Thumb all of the giant’s treasure which he takes along with him.

Other Versions: Some accounts have Hop-o’-My-Thumb bring the treasure to the king and he serves as his messenger. Other accounts have Hop-o’-My-Thumb bringing the treasure directly to his family and everyone lives happily ever after.

Adaptations: Made into a Broadway musical and a Soviet cartoon.
Why Forgotten: It’s well known on the European continent, but not in the English-speaking world. Besides, Hop-o’-My-Thumb takes a woman’s kindness for granted, condemns 7 sleeping girls to death, steals, lies, steals some more, and leaves a poor woman to explain things when her murderous husband comes home.
Trivia: N/A

35. Iron Hans


In the Grimms’ Iron Hans, a wild man is captured and put in a cage. Until a prince’s ball rolls into it and the wild man tricks the prince into setting him free.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: In a forest where no one who goes in ever comes out, a huntsman captures a wild man by draining a pool he was hiding in. The king keeps him in a cage and threatens to kill anyone who lets him out. Unfortunately, the prince’s ball falls into the cage and the wild man tricks the boy into getting the key and letting him out. He then carries him off to avoid punishment. In the forest, the wild man sets the prince to watch a well and make sure nothing falls into it, lest it become “polluted.” He fails 3 times. First, he sticks his finger in it, causing it to turn gold. Second, a hair from his head falls in, also turning into gold. Finally, he tries seeing his reflection in the water, causing his long hair to fall in and become completely gilded. The wild man sends him away, but tells him that if he calls his name “Iron Hans,” he will come to help him. Hiding his hair beneath a cap, the prince finds a menial court position. He ends up demoted from the kitchen to the garden when he claims to have a sore on his head to keep his hair concealed. One day, the princess glimpsed his hair and asks him to bring her a wreath of flowers. She then pulls of his cap and is certain it’s him.


Whenever the prince is in need, he could always call on Iron Hans. When a king issues impossible tasks, he uses this promise to his advantage.

When the country is threatened with war, the prince calls upon Iron Hans who gives him a horse and a troop of soldiers. The prince secures the king’s victory but flees before he’s caught out. The king throws a feast in which his daughter will throw the golden apple in hopes that the strange knight will catch it. The prince calls upon Iron Hans, catches it on the horse he receives and rides off. This happens 3 times but he’s wounded in the third so they see his golden hair, giving away his identity as the gardener’s boy, and they bring him before the throne. After he’s revealed as a prince, he asks to marry the princess. At their wedding, a strange man appears who reveals himself as Iron Hans and an enchanted king. But the prince disenchanted him and will receive everything he owns for it.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Retold in an Anne Sexton poem.
Why Forgotten: Well, it’s well known in Europe, Africa, and Asia. But it’s not among the mainstream.
Trivia: Inspired a mythopoetic men’s movement in the 1990s.

36. Jack the Giant Killer


Based on an English chapbook, Jack the Giant Killer follows a young man who manages to slay a few giants. And yes, the old pictures look pretty graphic.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: As a chapbook printed as, “The History of Jack and the Giants” in 1711, fusing various other giant tales into one narrative (explaining why the story is longer and more episodic than a typical folktale). Might’ve appeared earlier in the History of the Kings of Britain where legendary Corineus fought giants and lent his name to Cornwall and the Cornish. Also a predecessor to “Jack and the Beanstalk” and variant of “The Brave Little Tailor.”
Best Known Version: The chapbook version.
Synopsis: Using a pick axe and a pit trap, Cornish Jack slays his first giant, gaining him a reputation amongst a nearby village. Following this, he sets off on a series of challenges, meeting a giant named Blunderbore who he strangles with a cord. His third encounter is with a Welsh giant who tries to kill Jack while he’s resting at his castle. Jack uses his invisibility coat, which he received in the giant’s first castle, to attack the third giant and his brother with impunity. The last encounter is with the giant Galligantus whom he scares with a magic trumpet blast before decapitating him and sending it to King Arthur. Arthur then rewards Jack with his daughter’s hand in marriage (wait, King Arthur has a daughter?).

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Loosely adapted into a 1962 film.
Why Forgotten: Well, it’s replete with violence.
Trivia: Has little in common with Jack the Giant Slayer.

37. Jesper Who Herded the Hares
From: Scandinavia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in The Violet Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: Andrew Lang’s translation.
Synopsis: A king decided he’d marry his daughter to whoever who brought him 12 of the finest pearls he ever saw, and carried out certain tasks. Those who brought fake pearls were caught out while those who brought real ones failed. Now a fisherman had 3 sons named Peter, Paul, and Jesper who was the smartest even if the other 2 wouldn’t admit it. One day, he brought home 3 dozen oysters, each proving to have a beautiful pearl. Peter set out with a dozen and met the King of Ants, whose plea for air he scorned, and an old woman who asked what he was carrying. He told her it was cinders, which it was when he reached the castle. Paul did the same. But when Jesper set out, he helped the ants, received a promise of their aid, and then told the old woman he was carrying the pearls that would win the princess. When she asks for food, he gives her his lunch. She gives him a whistle that will bring back whatever he loses.

But when Jesper shows the pearls to the king, he’s displeased before sending him to sort a mixed heap of wheat, barley, oats, and rye. He summoned the ants to sort the grains for him. The next day, the king’s men had captured 100 hares and made it Jesper’s task to herd them all. They fled as soon as they were released, but the whistle brought them back. When news got back to the king, he sent the princess to beg one from him. He agreed if she kissed him. She did but he whistled it back. The queen came and Jesper made her walk and cackle like a hen, and whistled the hare back. The king came. Jesper made him stand on his head and whistled the hare back. The next day, the king told him he had to tell as many truths as needed to fill a tub as far as the king saw it. Jesper had told that the princess had come to him, then the queen, and finally started to tell about the king. The king declared the tub was full so Jesper and the princess married.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Herding hares doesn’t seem like a task as worthy of marrying a princess.
Trivia: N/A

38. The Jezinkas
From: Czech Republic
Earliest Appearance: Collected by A. H. Wratislaw in his Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources.
Best Known Version: Wraitslaw’s version obviously.
Synopsis: An orphan named Johnny looks for work but finds none. Until he sees a man with his eyes gouged out lamenting to his goats that he can’t pasture them. Johnny takes the job. But the old man warns him that if he takes the goats to a certain hill, the Jezinkas will gouge out his eyes. Alas, Johnny goes their anyway, taking along 3 brambles. And the Jezinkas come offering him an apple, a rose, and to comb his hair. He traps the last one with a bramble. The other 2 try to free her but he traps them as well. He demands they return his master’s eyes or he’ll throw them into a river to drown. They agree, but the first 2 give Johnny the wrong eyes which sees nothing but owls (or wolves) and he drowns them. The third initially gives him the wrong set that see nothing but pike. However, she begs and pleads before giving him the right one and troubles him no more whenever he pastures the goats on the hill.

Other Versions: Goes by “Grandfather’s Eyes” and “Johnny and the Witch Maidens.”
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Contains eye gouging and drowning.
Trivia: N/A

39. Jorinde and Joringel


The Grimms’ Jorinde and Joringel is about a pair of lovers who get separated by a witch. The woman’s turned into a bird while the guy is set free for plot-related reasons. Since we can’t have a hero turn into a statue.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, obviously.
Synopsis: Two young lovers, Jorinde and Joringel go for a walk in the woods. Unbeknownst to them, the woods are home to a wicked witch who turns women into birds and men into statues in her castle. Of course, the two lovebirds become the next victims. However, she decides to set Joringel free after taking away Jorinde, content that the lovers will never see each other again. Some time later, he has a strange dream about a magic flower that can break the witch’s spells. He spends 9 days looking for it before returning to the witch’s castle. He’s immune to her petrification spell. When she tries fleeing with one specific nightingale, Joringel realizes it must be Jorinde. He touches the witch with the flower, taking away the witch’s magic. Then he breaks the spell on Jorinde then the several hundred women-turned-birds and men-turned-statues. While Jorinde and Joringel live happily ever after.

Other Versions: Has an American variant called “The Flower of Dew” collected by Marie Campbell.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not exactly sure.
Trivia: N/A

40. Kate Crackernuts


The English Kate Crackernuts is an unusual tale revolving around Kate and the weird things going around her. Like her stepsister having a sheep’s head and a prince who can’t stop dancing.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales.
Best Known Version: The Jacobs version.
Synopsis: Kate’s mother, who’s a queen marries Anne’s father, who’s a king. Anne is prettier than Kate so the queen consults a henwife, who after 2 tries manages to replace Anne’s head with a sheep’s one. When Kate discovers this, she wraps Anne’s head with a linen cloth and takes her by the hand to lead her as they go out to find their fortune. When they asked for lodging, they find a king’s castle where there were 2 princes. One was sick and anyone who stayed the night with him vanished. Kate took the job. The next night, the prince got up and rode off in the darkness. Kate jumped on the horse as well and when he announced who he was, she added herself. Eventually she found out it was the fairies who made him dance even when he was collapsing from exhaustion. The next 2 nights, she discovered a way to disenchant Anne and then the prince. Kate marries the prince while Anne ends up with his brother.


Kate Crackernuts discovers the fairies behind the dancing curse on the prince. Still, Kate is an unconventional fairy tale princess since she’s proactive and gets along with her stepsister.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Adapted into a children’s novel by Katharine Mary Briggs as well as a stage play.
Why Forgotten: The fact a character has a sheep’s head for a good chunk of the story might have something to do with it. Also, “Crackernuts” might lead to unfortunate interpretations.
Trivia: N/A