A few facts about fairy tales

"Magical story, usually a folk tale in origin. Typically in European fairy tales, a poor, brave, and resourceful hero or heroine goes through testing adventures to eventual good fortune."


In other words, fairy tales are stories about events that would never happen. Very often there are some supernatural beings included, such as fairies, dragons or witches. At first, they were transfered just orally and they were not at all meant for children (they were quite violent and cruel).

First fairy tales appeared in oriental stories...very famous being the Arabian Nights (Cinderella is found in a Chinese book from the 9th century). In England one of the earliest examples was Chaucerīs Canterbury Tales (where the Wife of Bath tells a fairy story).

During the 16th and 17th century there were no fairy tales published (after all, there were not so popular in those times). They still appeared in oral form. And Puritans did not like them, considering them to be somehow substandart. When they were finally accepted, it was mostly thanks to situation in France - they simply started to like such stories and this popularity helped to spread them. Towards the end of the 17th century they were thought to be good for children and they also became part of the court entertainments.

At the end of the 17th century also the first boks of fairy tales were published. Among the best known collectors was Charles Perrault with his Mother Goose (Perraultīs stories were very often printed in bilingual version: English and French). In 1704 Arabian Nights appeared, translated into French. Anyway, most of the French stories were criticized. They looked artificial and were very long and boring (at least for children).

Another turning point came in the late 18th century when fairy tales appeared on the stage. These were also the year when more and more stories were published. But there was still a strong criticism (maybe even stronger than in the Puritan era): educated people wanted to bring up their children according to Christianīs principles and thought fairy tales were just trash filled with superstition. So for a few years, fairy tales were sort of out of fashion but as the time passed, the number of published fairy tales increased - this was caused especially by the first translation of the work of the brothers Grimm. In 1840s first stories by Hans Christian Andersen came to England and in 1849 the book called Fairy Tales of All Nations introduced tales from all over the world to English children. One of the best known editors and collectors was Joseph Jacobs (Andrew Lang based most of his own books on those collections).

And then there is the 20th century and the fight between fans of fairy tales and their opponents goes on. In the USA, the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim has proclaimed that fairy tales can cause damages to the emotional health of children.