The Princess and the Pea

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"The Princess and the Pea"
Bertall - La Princesse sur un pois.png
Illustration by Bertall
Author Hans Christian Andersen
Translator Charles Boner
Country Denmark
Language Danish
Characters The Princess
The Prince
The Queen
The King
Genre(s) Literary fairy tale
Published in Fairy Tales Told for Children (first booklet)
Publication type Fairy tale collection
Publisher C. A. Reitzel
Media type Print
Publication date 1835
Published in English 1846, in A Danish Story-Book
Notable adaptations Once Upon a Mattress (musical play)
Preceded by Big Claus and Little Claus
Followed by Litlte Ida's Flowers

"The Princess and the Pea" is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It was originally published in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1835 in the first booklet of Fairy Tales Told for Children. Other tales in the booklet were "The Tinderbox", "Big Claus and Little Claus", and "Little Ida's Flowers". The critics did not like these stories. They thought the stories immoral. Andersen heard the tale of the pea as a child, but it is unknown in Danish folk tradition. It was probably a Swedish version he heard. Tales of super-sensitivity are rare, but not unknown in world literature and lore. The tale has been adapted to various media including television dramatization. A popular musical play of the 1960s based on the story was called Once Upon a Mattress. It starred comedienne Carol Burnett.

Story[change | edit source]

A prince wants to marry, but his bride must be a real princess. He searches the world, but does not find one. He returns home disappointed. One stormy night, a rain-soaked maiden comes to the castle door seeking shelter. She says she is a real princess. The Queen puts a pea upon a bed. She then puts 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds upon the bed. Here the princess must pass the night. In the morning, the maiden says that she could not sleep because there was something hard in the bed. All realize she is a real princess because only a real princess could feel a pea beneath a huge pile of bedding.

References[change | edit source]

  • Opie, Iona and Peter. 1974. The Classic Fairy Tales. Oxford University Press. pp. 216-218

Other websites[change | edit source]