European Fairy Tales

We will have those big United States of Europe, which will crown the old world just as the United States of America crown the new one.”

Victor Hugo.

Folklore is an integrant part of Europe. It both expresses Europe’s history and influenced it in return. There are in Europe a rich amount of Fairy tales which made the fame of renowned collectors such as the Grimm brothers or Hans Christian Andersen. But for some country, few is actually known about the variety of their Fairy Tales outside their borders. The following list is a selection of the best Fairy Tales or pieces of literature for children collected in every European country. As most of them are now a part of history, they are to be found free on our online library, most of the time in English version, by clicking on the name of the Fairy Tale in the list below. Now open your eyes as a child, and enjoy the reading.

European Fairy Tales

Portugal

The False Prince and the TrueCollected by Andrew Lang

There is a substantial corpus of traditional folk tales in Portuguese, but little is really known about it outside Portugal. The False Prince and the True is a fairy tale about a quarrel between two Princes, one by birth and the other by wedding…

 

Spain

The Little Ant Written by Fernán Caballero

La hormiquita is a story written under the pseudonym of Fernán Caballero by the Spanish novelist Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl de Faber in the nineteenth century. It tells the story of little ant, so lovely and so hard working. It also tells the story of what happened to her husband Peter the mouse…

 

France

Mr Seguin’s GoatWritten by Alphonse Daudet

La Chèvre de Monsieur Seguin is a famous French novel written by Alphonse Daudet or his ghostwriter Paul Arène and included in the collection Letters from My Windmill. The novel tells the story of Blanquette, the 7th goat of Mr Seguin who decided as her fellow predecessors to escape from her pen, attracted by the green grass of the nearest mountain. There she will meet at night the ruthless wolf…

Iceland

The Cottager and his CatCollected by Jón Árnason

The Icelandic librarian and teacher Jón Árnason was called the “Grimm” of Iceland by some, because he collected thousands of Icelandic legends and fairy tales during the nineteenth century. This fairy tale reports the story of an orphan, who bought a cat with the money of his inheritance, without knowing how convenient the cat would be for his future…

 

Ireland

The Horned WomenCollected by Joseph Jacobs

This short story was collected by Joseph Jacobs and included in his Celtic Fairy Tales. A rich woman opens her door to witches, and is tricked by them. So as to avoid their return, the woman, with assistance of the Spirit of the Well, prepares her home against the enchantments of the witches…

 

United-Kingdom

Tom ThumbWritten by Reginald Scot

The History of Tom Thumb was published in 1621, and was the first fairy tale printed in English. Tom is not bigger than his father’s thumb, and his adventures include being swallowed by a cow, tangling with giants, and becoming a favorite of King Arthur…

 

Norway

East of the Sun and West of the MoonCollected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe

The fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon tells the story of a young girl married to a white bear. On her way back to a castle, the girl get lost and asks the four Winds for directions…

 

Sweden

The Princess and the Glass MountainCollected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe

The Princess and the Glass Mountain, with origins in Norway and Sweden recounts the story of the youngest son of three brothers, who obtains a magical horse and uses it to win the heart of a princess…

 

Finland

Poor Iris Written by Anni Swan

Iris Rukka is a famous book written by Anni Swan a former journalist for children’s magazines in 1916. One or two generations of Finnish children were educated in the spirit of her teachings. It told a story about a poor girl, Iris, who is suffering from humiliating treatment in a rich family, and who got rescued by her father, an artist, who returns from abroad after becoming wealthy…

Denmark

The Brave tin soldierWritten by Hans Christian Andersen

The story The Steadfast Tin Soldier, written in 1838, concerns a tin soldier who had only one leg because “he had been left to the last, and then there was not enough of the melted tin to finish him.” He falls in love with a dancer made of paper and after much adventuring, including being swallowed by a fish, the two are consumed together by fire, leaving nothing but tin melted “in the shape of a little tin heart.”…

Netherlands

The boy who wanted more cheeseCollected byWilliam Elliot Griffis

This famous Dutch fairy Tale was collected by William Elliot Griffisin the book, Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks in 1918. It tells the story of Kees van Bommel, a farmer boy who never had enough at the table. One day, fairies invite him to go in the Forrest where he would find plenty of cheese…

 

Belgium

The distaff gospelsCollected by Fouquart de Cambray, Duval Antoine and Jean d’Arras

Les évangiles des quenouilles is a Medieval manuscript written around 1470 and is an anonymous work that appears to have many contributors. It tells the story of six women who used to meet at night to share superstitions, practices, beliefs, and folklore that border on witchcraft and definitely fall into the realm of magic…

 

Germany

StruwwelpeterWritten by Heinrich Hoffmann

Der Struwwelpeter (Shaggy-Peter in English) is a major reference in Germany and is known by every German single child. It compiles various short stories with a moral background that demonstrates in an exaggerated way the disastrous consequences of misbehavior.

 

Switzerland

La Rose de la BérocheLegend from Neuchâtel

The Swiss traditional fairy tale from the canton of Neuchâtel tells the story of a little girl named Rose who discovers one day that some flowers could be used for recovery. This incredible power will soon make people jealous…

 

Italy

The Golden LionCollected by Laura Gonzenbach

Il leone d’oro is a story about the youngest son of a merchant who has to find a princess within eight days, otherwise he would lose his head. An old woman helps the boy, suggesting him to hide himself in the statue of a golden lion…

 

Slovenia

GoldenhornWritten by Karel Dežman

The legend of Zlatorog, the white steinbock with golden horns who guards great treasures in the mountains around Triglav, is one of the best known Slovenian tales. In the story, a hunter tries to shot Goldenhorn and pursue him in the mountains to discover the treasures.

 

Austria

Sweet PorridgeCollected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

The Austrian Fairy tale was collected by the famous Brothers Grimm in the 19th century. The short story is about a poor but good little girl who lived alone with her mother. As they no longer had anything to eat, the child left home to find foods and discovered a little pot, which when she said, “Cook, little pot, cook,” would cook good, sweet porridge…

 

Czech Republic

Clever MankaCollected by Parker Fillmore

The Czech Fairy Tale is about a riddle made by a burgomaster to a farmer and a shepherd of his village asking them “What is the swiftest thing in the world? What is the sweetest thing? What is the richest?”. In the story, the farmer’s wife, Clever Manka, gives good advice…

 

Slovakia

The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Know All Written by Karia Jaromira Erbena

The beautiful Slovakian Fairy tale is about a motherless child blessed by three old Fates. At his birth, he was given the fate to encounter great dangers, to go safely through them all, and live long and to get married to a princess…

 

Poland

The Wawel DragonLegend from Kraków

The Smok Wawelski is a famous legend and Fairy Tale in Poland about a terrible fire-belching Dragon, living in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill in Kraków. Each day the evil dragon roamed around the countryside, killing people, pillaging their homes and devouring their livestock. The King wants to put a stop to that awful situation, but his bravest knights fell to the dragon’s fiery breath…

Lithuania

Eglė the Queen of SerpentsWritten by Danute Bindokien

Eglė žalčių karalienė is considered one of the best-known Lithuanian fairy tales and the richest in references of Baltic mythology. It features a young girl named Eglé who meets a serpent hidden in her clothes after bathing with her two sisters. The characters of the story eventually turned into irreversible human–trees…

 

Latvia

Pastaris and the GiantCollected by Latvian Teikas

Pastaris and the Giant is a myth similar to David and Goliath. A fisherman’s son called Pastaris has to defeat one day a giant coming from the sea. The tale points out some astronomical constellations.

 

Estonia

The Egg-Born PrincessCollected by Friedrich Kreutzwald

The tale Munast sündinud kuningatütar recounts the story of an old woman who gives an egg to a queen, asking her to keep it in a warm place. Three months later, the egg breaks out to give birth to a doll called Dotterine…

 

Ukraine

Nibbly-Quibbly The GoatWritten by Volodimir Boyko

This story is about an old man who is very angry with his Goat. As he entered in a blacksmith’s with his knife sharpened so as to kill the Goat, the animal tore itself loose and ran off to the forest…

 

Romania

The Goat and Her Three KidsWritten by Ion Creangă

Here another tale with a goat. Figuratively illustrating for the notions of motherly love and childish disobedience, it recounts how a family of goats is ravaged by the Big Bad Wolf, allowed inside the secured home by the oldest, most ill-behaved and least prudent of the kids.

 

Croatia

Kraljevitch MarkoWritten by A.H. Wratislaw

The Croatian Fairy Tale recounts the story of Marko Kraljevitch who was raised by his mother to become a hero. Marko Kraljevitch once meets the emperor Soliman who was anxiously expecting the Tatar…

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Golden Fish Unknown

The famous Balkan story is about a poor woman who caught a golden fish, released it and in return gained wealth and happiness…

 

Hungary

The Suitors of The Princess Fire-Fly Written by Baroness Orczy

In a world inhabited by fairies, there lived a great and mighty king called Fire-fly. His daughter was very proud and very vain of her own beauty.One dayu, she decides that no suitor should have her hand unless he performed the task she imposed upon him.

 

Bulgaria

The Little Girl And The Winter Whirlwinds Unknown

One year the wicked Winter Witch decided to stop Spring from coming on time and make Winter the only season on Earth. She hid the Sun behind dark clouds and covered the Earth with heavy snow…

 

Serbia

The Nine Peahens and the Golden ApplesCollected by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić

The Serbian epic Fairy Tale tells the story of an emperor’s golden apple tree which was robbed every night. The emperor’s three sons decide to set themselves at night to watch it. As nine peahens arrived, the older two sons were already asleep, while the youngest stayed awake…

 

Albania

The Three Friends and the Earthly BeautyCollected by Xenofôntos N. Saltê

A man died leaving his wife with child. Six months later she gave birth to a son. After having found the sabre of his father, this son will experience many adventures…

 

Greece

Fairy GardensWritten by Theodore P. Gianakoulis and Georgia H. MacPherson

The Greek Fairy Tale recounts the story of Uncle Kostas, who had once been a prisoner of the fairies. Kostas, alone among the fairies was not happy. He enjoyed living in that paradise, but he could never forget his home and his sweetheart Christena, and he longed to go back…

 

Turkey

The Three Orange-PerisCollected by Ignatius Kunos

This Fairy Tale was collected by the Hungarian savant Dr. Ignatius Kunos, during his travels through Anatolia in the 19th century. It starts with “In the olden times, when there were sieves in straws and lies in everything, in the olden times when there was abundance, and men ate and drank the whole day and yet lay down hungry”…

 

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