Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. This is what C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many fairy tales were written or collected by, for instance, The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. This article tells us about the history of fairy tales. ♛

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What is a fairy tale?
Firstly, it isn't often a story about fairies. The term derives from the English translation of 'conte de fées', the name that the French writer Madame d'Aulnoy gave to the tales she and her contemporaries wrote in 17th century Paris.

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It isn't all about fairies.

Fairy tales are rooted in the everyday world, but they aren't realistic; animals talk, the wind gives advice, and the dead spring back to life. The tales aren't usually set in the here and now; or in any identifiable time or place—they exist in the realm of 'once upon a time'. Their characters are often nameless, or have generic names, as if to remind us that wonderful things can happen to anyone. And that strange and wondrous things can happen is never questioned: anything is possible. A child can become a bird, a man a monster, a girl in rags a Queen. Things can change for the better and justice will prevail. There are some fairy tales without a happily ever after—but there are no fairy tales in which no one is transformed. As Warner has said 'metamorphosis defines the fairy tale'.

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There are some fairy tales without a happily ever after...
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... but there are no fairy tales in which no one is transformed.

Understanding the History of Fairy Tales
In order to understand the history of fairy tales, readers need to be aware of for whom original fairy tales were really written. While today parents love relating their favorite fairy tales to their own children, the dark and often gruesome plot lines of the original stories were intended for adult audiences, not youngsters.

Fairy tales were originally part of the vast oral tradition of storytelling, which also encompasses myth, legend, and folklore. Once a fairy tale is preserved in print it becomes known as a literary fairy tale and of the familiar Western fairy tales we know today several first came into print including 'Cinderella', 'The Sleeping Beauty' and 'Little Red Riding Hood'. ♛

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Including 'Cinderella' and 'The Sleeping Beauty'

Brothers Grimm and H.C. Andersen
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were the first writers who aimed to collect and preserve the oral tales in their Kinder und Hausmarchen (Childhood and Household Tales), first published in 1812, but in later editions they edited them to make them more suitable for children, and for Christian sensibilities. The Grimms' tales include 'Rapunzel', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Rumpelstiltskin'.

Hans Christian Andersen was a master of the form and although some of his stories were based on traditional tales (such as The Princess and the Pea), most were original. He published his first fairy tales in Fairy Tales Told for Children in 1835 and many of his stories are still well known today, including 'The Little Mermaid'. ♛

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The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel, Pocahontas, The little Mermaid, Alladin and Mulan

More Fairy Tales
The Wolf and the Seven young Kids, Little Brother and Little Sister, The White Snake, The Riddle, Little Snow White, The Golden Bird, The Thief and His Master, The Three Sons of Fortune, The Three Brothers, Iron John and The Golden Key. For more check the sources below. ♛

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Sources

  • http://www.newfairytales.co.uk/pages/alittlehistory.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimms%27_Fairy_Tales
  • http://childrens-books.lovetoknow.com/History_of_Fairy_Tales