FairyTales and Fairy Tale Stories

Fairytales or fairy tale stories have fantasy creatures such as fairies, faeries, fey, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and or talking animals. Enchantments and far-fetched events are also usually part of the this text. They seldom contain any references to religion, actual places, persons or events. The term "once upon a time" is used rather than an actual reference to date.

Where do Fairytales come from?

Fairy tale stories, folklore, legends and myths have been passed on to children and adults since before recorded history. The origin of these fantasy tales, or any of these types of oral stories, is impossible to determine. This oral handing down from generation to generation came long before the written page. Tales were taught or acted out for each of the new generations. We do know that ancient cultures from all over the globe have similar stories. Ancient Egypt, c. 1300 BC, has the oldest known written Fairytale.

Fairy Tales Art

Two different theories exist on how similarities can exist between a fairytales story from different cultures and even different continents. One theory is that a particular tale started from one point and then over hundreds of years spread across cultures and continents. The second theory is that fairytales stories are from similar experiences that humans have in most all cultures across all continents.

During the 6th century BC, Aesop, a Greek, was the first famous writer of the Western fairy tales. This makes fairy tales very old, even older than the many Arabian Nights magical tales from 1500 AD.

Many authors including Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen, Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and William Shakespeare's many plays all include fairy tales stories in one form or another.

Préciosité is a literary style that comes from les précieuses, the witty and educated intellectual ladies of Paris. The name Fairy Tale was coined when the précieuses took up writing literary stories from their conversations and fun word games. Madame d'Aulnoy invented the term 'contes de fée', or fairy tale. The précieuses wrote their stories mainly for adults but knew that servants or women less privileged would repeat these stories to children. "Beauty and the Beast" was written by Madame Gabrielle de Villeneuve, in La jeune ameriquaine, et les contes marins in 1740. One of the précieuses, Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont rewrote "Beauty and the Beast" so as to be more suitable for children and this version, published in 1756 is the tale that is most popular today.



Early Classic Faery Tales were more often for adults not children. Literary fairy stories in the 19th – 20th centuries became almost exclusively for children. Children have an inborn knack for liking and understanding the mythical creatures that appear in these tales. Grimm and Andersen tales of winged faeries are some of the most popular stories for children.

The Brothers Grimm

Picture of The Brothers Grimm

Most tales were oral at this time. One of the first authors to try and capture these oral tales on paper were The Brothers Grimm(Pictured). These oral stories had to undergo many changes to be written and then printed under the Grimm name and still be fit for children. This Brothers Grimm collection was called "Children's and Household Tales". They received complaints that these stories were still unfit for children and rewrote many of the stories. Almost all of the changes made by The Brothers Grimm were getting rid of any reference to sex. By the same token, violence was increased when punishing the bad guys. Later there were more revisions to get rid of violence.

The Victorian era's moralizing caused changes to be made to these Historical tales to teach good habits to children. One of the many rewrites was George Cruikshank’s Cinderella in 1854. Temperance ideas were inserted.

Charles Dickens disagreed and wrote "In an utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairytales should be respected."

Little Red Riding Hood

The older fairy tales that have been around for many generations are put into the "Historical" section in libraries that have an area just for children. The "Wonder Stories" section  refers to tales that the fairies, dwarves and many of the other fantasy creatures have been removed. In addition, most of the blood curdling parts that the authors used to show a moral in the story are also gone. Since todays education includes morality, children seek only entertainment from these "Wonder Tales" that have removed most of the gore. These “Historical” fairytales are considered much worse than the evening news or the crime drama shows on TV.

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written for today’s child. It is a modern fairy tale that contains joy and wonderment without the heartbreak and horror that sometimes cause nightmares.

Prior to the definition of the genre of fantasy, many works that would now be classified as fantasy were termed "fairy tales", including Tolkien's The Hobbit, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Indeed, Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories" includes discussions of world-building and is considered a vital part of fantasy criticism. Fairytale Fantasy a sub-genre of Fairytale and Fantasy genres, uses a lot of fairytale characters and places. The exact Fairytale genre definition has been the cause of many arguments for years. Everyone seems to agree that Fairies need not be part of a Fairy Tale. In today's usage, the term could describe something very beautiful or very happy. ("She had a Fairy Tale Wedding"), or it could mean a statement or story that is an exaggeration and very unlikely. ("He thinks I believe that 'FairyTale' he has been telling."