The Most Well-Known Fairy Tales

Here is a list of the most well-known or best-remembered fairy tales.
I group according to popularity, and sources (e.g., Perrault, Grimm, Andersen.)
Thanks to Lynda, Stacy, Phil, Sandra, Stacey and Marie, and mam and dad, who provided valuable feedback and discussion on this.


Little Red Riding Hood - Perrault, Grimm
Perrault Grimm Lang

Cinderella - Perrault, Grimm
Perrault Grimm Lang

Sleeping Beauty / Briar Rose - Perrault, Grimm
Perrault Grimm Lang

Hansel and Grettel - Grimm
Grimm Lang

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - Grimm
Grimm Lang

Rapunzel - Grimm
Grimm Lang

Rumpelstiltskin - Grimm
Grimm Lang

The Pied Piper of Hamelin - Grimm
Grimm Browning Jacobs

Puss in Boots - Perrault
Perrault Lang

Bluebeard - Perrault
Perrault Lang

Beauty and the Beast - Madame de Villeneuve
Marie Le Prince de Beaumont Lang

The Three Little Piggies - Jacobs
Jacobs Lang

Jack and the Beanstalk - Jacobs
Jacobs Lang

Dick Whittington - Jacobs
Jacobs Lang

Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Southey
Jacobs Retold by SurLaLune

The Three Billy Goats Gruff - Asbjørnsen and Moe
Asbjørnsen and Moe

The Gingerbread Man - Asbjørnsen and Moe
Asbjørnsen and Moe Retold

Aladdin - Arabian Nights
Burton Lang

The Snow Queen - Andersen
Andersen Lang

The Emperor’s New Clothes - Andersen
Andersen Lang

The Ugly Duckling - Andersen
Andersen Lang

The Princess and the Pea - Andersen
Andersen Lang

The Little Mermaid - Andersen

The Tortoise and the Hare - Aesop

The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Aesop


Below are the best resources on the web for fairytales and folktales. For Grimm, Perrault, Jacobs and Andersen, I give links to continuous texts, and to sites which present complete lists hyperlinked to individual tales.


Lang - A complete index through to full stories of everything in the influential Fairy Books of Andrew Lang with some notes on sources
(a kind of meta-collection) -



Grimm -




(with all the original editorial material)

(with a useful notation for the “top five”)

http://www.grimmstories.com/en/grimm_fairy-tales/titles (alphabetical)

(English / German parallel texts)





The Tales of Mother Goose -


from The Tales of Mother Goose -

Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre (Cinderella) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault06.html
Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault02.html
La Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault01.html
Le Maître chat ou le Chat botté (Puss in Boots) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault04.html
La Barbe bleue (Bluebeard) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault03.html
Le Petit Poucet (Hop o' My Thumb / Little Thumb) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault08.html
Les Fées (Diamonds and Toads) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault05.html
Riquet à la houppe (Ricky of the Tuft) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault07.html

other -

La Marquise de Salusses ou la Patience de Griselidis (Patient Griselda) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault09.html
Les Souhaits ridicules (The Ridiculous Wishes) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0750a.html - perrault
Peau d'Âne (Donkeyskin)


Joseph Jacobs

A list of all his tales-

English Fairy Tales (including The Three Little Piggies, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Story of the Three Bears, Tom Thumb, Dick Whittington) –

More English Fairy Tales (including a version of The Pied Piper) -


Hans Christian Andersen


(with a useful notation for the most popular)


http://www.andersenstories.com/en/andersen_fairy-tales/titles (alphabetical)


Madame d’Aulnoy (and much more) –



Other great sites





1001 Nights -

(the famous Richard Burton translation)
(the John Payne translation)

Interestingly the most well known in the west were not in the original collections but were added by European translators, though they are genuine Arabian tales -

Burton Lang
Ali Baba
Burton Lang
Burton Payne


Russian Folktales

Alexander Afanasiev - I have, as yet, no great links apart from -
Ransome - Baba Yaga The Firebird
Baba Yaga and Vasilissa
Koshchei the Deathless


Aesop’s Fables



Novels or stories that have some relation to fairy-tale mode

Below is a list of novels and stories that bear some relation to fairy-tale mode. This could be expanded in all sorts of directions, and towards the end I briefly indicate some of these -


Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
retold in Lang

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Wonderland Looking Glass

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Wizard of Oz

The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
Wind In The Willows

The Jungle Book, Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories

Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie
Peter Pan

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, etc. - Beatrix Potter
Peter Rabbit

Winnie-The-Pooh - A.A. Milne

Stacey notes Narnia and Harry Potter, and we might add - Tolkien and the whole field of modern fantasy, (I'd like to draw attention to Tolkien's main shorter pieces: Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf By Niggle, and Smith of Wooton Major, the latter two essentially adult fairy tales) - the precursors of modern fantasy (MacDonald and Morris spring to mind) - and many modern stories for children; Stacey remembers Billy Blue Hat and friends, and I remember Doctor Seuss’s “A Fish Out Of Water” from primary school, which was demanded constantly by the whole class, and which I would say is effectively a fairy story.

Without getting too carried away, we ought also to note a blurring of the category into - myths (e.g. Greek, or Biblical, such as Joseph, Noah and Jonah; Joseph is, I think, purely as story, one of the best in The Bible) - and legends (e.g. King Arthur, Robin Hood, both also popularised by Lang here, William Tell, Beowulf, Faust) - ghost and horror tales - urban legends - superheroes - iconic fictional figures.


The Aarne-Thompson System of Classification


Wild Animals 1-99
...The Clever Fox (Other Animal) 1-69
...Other Wild Animals 70-99
Wild Animals and Domestic Animals 100-149
Wild Animals and Humans 150-199
Domestic Animals 200-219
Other Animals and Objects 220-299

Supernatural Adversaries 300-399
Supernatural or Enchanted Wife (Husband) or Other Relative 400-459
...Wife 400-424
...Husband 425-449
...Brother or Sister 450-459
Supernatural Tasks 460-499
Supernatural Helpers 500-559
Magic Objects 560-649
Supernatural Power or Knowledge 650-699
Other Tales of the Supernatural 700-749

God Rewards and Punishes 750-779
The Truth Comes to Light 780-791
Heaven 800-809
The Devil 810-826
Other Religious Tales 827-849

The Man Marries the Princess 850-869
The Woman Marries the Prince 870-879
Proofs of Fidelity and Innocence 880-899
The Obstinate Wife Learns to Obey 900-909
Good Precepts 910-919
Clever Acts and Words 920-929
Tales of Fate 930-949 .7;68
Robbers and Murderers 950-969
Other Realistic Tales 970-999

Labour Contract 1000-1029
Partnership between Man and Ogre 1030-1059
Contest between Man and Ogre 1060-1114
Man Kills (Injures) Ogre 1115-1144
Ogre Frightened by Man 1145-1154
Man Outwits the Devil 1155-1169
Souls Saved from the Devil 1170-1199

Stories about a Fool 1200-1349
Stories about Married Couples 1350-1439
...The Foolish Wife and Her Husband 1380-1404
...The Foolish Husband and His Wife 1405-1429
...The Foolish Couple 1430-1439
Stories about a Woman 1440-1524
...Looking for a Wife 1450-1474
...Jokes about Old Maids 1475-1499
...Other Stories about Women 1500-1524
Stories about a Man 1525-1724
...The Clever Man 1525-1639
...Lucky Accidents 1640-1674
...The Stupid Man 1675-1724
Jokes about Clergymen and Religious Figures 1725-1849
...The Clergyman is Tricked 1725-1774
...Clergyman and Sexton 1775-1799
...Other Jokes about Religious Figures 1800-1849
Anecdotes about Other Groups of People 1850-1874
Tall Tales 1875-1999

Cumulative Tales 2000-2100
...Chains Based on Numbers, Objects, Animals, or Names 2000-2020
...Chains Involving Death 2021-2024
...Chains Involving Eating 2025-2028
...Chains Involving Other Events 2029-2075
Catch Tales 2200-2299
Other Formula Tales 2300-2399

More detail in my archives
and at http://oaks.nvg.org/folktale-types.html - atu.


Vladimir Propp - A Synopsis

Vladimir Propp tried to work out a sort of grammar of Russian folk tales - I don't know his sample but believe it was quite small, and there are all sorts of questions about his methodology. I'm quite sceptical about what he comes up with, but nevertheless find such ideas fascinating.
Here are two synopses of Propp's morphology from various web sources. (I have fuller information on this, Aarne-Thompson, and related ideas, for example Jungian Archetype theory, available on request) -


Vladimir Jakovlevic Propp (1895-1970)
Morphology of the Folktale (1928)

7 Roles

sought-for person (and her father)
false hero

31 Functions

Preparatory Section:

l. One of the members of a family absents himself from home.
2. An interdiction (ban) is addressed to the hero.
3. The interdiction is violated. (The villain usually enters the story here.)
4. The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance.
5. The villain receives information about his victim. (The villain gets an answer.)
6. The villain attempts to deceive his victim by using persuasion, magic, or deception.
7. The victim submits to deception and thereby unwittingly helps his enemy. (Hero sleeps.)

Villainy / Lack (Plot set in motion):

8. The villain causes harm or injury to a member of a family.
8a. One member of a family either lacks something or desires to have something.
9. Misfortune or lack is made known: the hero is approached with a request or command; he is allowed to go or he is dispatched.
10. The seeker (hero) agrees to or decides upon counteractions.
11. The hero leaves home.
12. The hero is tested, interrogated, attacked, etc. which prepares the way for his receiving either a magical agent or helper.
(The donor usually enters the story here.)
13. The hero reacts to the actions of the future donor.
14. The hero acquires the use of a magical agent.
15. The hero is transferred, delivered, or led to the whereabouts of an object of search.

Path A: Struggle and Victory over Villain; End of Lack and Return:

16. The hero and villain join in direct combat.
17. The hero is branded.
18. The villain is defeated.
19. The initial misfortune or lack is liquidated.
20. The hero returns.
21. The hero is pursued.
22. The hero is rescued from pursuit.

Path B: Unrecognised Arrival, Task, Recognition, Punishment, Wedding:

23. The hero, unrecognised, arrived home or in another country.
24. A false hero presents unfounded claims.
25. A difficult task is proposed to the hero.
(Trial by drink, fire, riddle, test of strength.)
26. The task is resolved or accomplished.
27. The hero is recognised, often by a mark or an object.
28. The false hero or villain is exposed and / or punished.
29. The hero is given a new appearance.
30. The villain is punished.
31. The hero is married and ascends the throne.


Vladimir Propp

8 Characters

The hero or victim/ seeker,
(reacts to the donor, weds the princess)

The villain
(struggles against the hero)

The donor
(prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object)

The (magical) helper
(helps the hero in the quest)

The princess
(person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative)

Her father

The dispatcher
(character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off)

The false hero/ anti-hero/ usurper
(takes credit for the hero's actions/ tries to marry the princess)

(These characters are not exclusive - for instance, the false hero can also be the villain in disguise; the dispatcher can also be the donor.)

31 Functions

1. A member of a family leaves home/ the hero/ victim is introduced
2. A prohibition/ rule is imposed on the hero (e.g. don't do x because...)
3. The hero breaks the rule
4. The villain tries to find out information about the hero/ victim
5. The villain learns something about the hero/ victim
6. The villain tries to deceive the hero/ victim in order to get possession of him / his belongings
7. The hero is deceived/ the victim is deceived into helping the villain

8. The villain harms a member of the family/ steals a desired object, which must be retrieved
A member of the hero/ victim's family lacks or desires something.
Either of these becomes "The Lack", the satisfaction of which is the focus of the narrative.
9. The lack/ misfortune is made known; the hero is given a request or command and is sent/ goes on a mission / quest to satisfy the situation
10. The hero/ seeker plans action against the villain

11. The hero leaves home
12. The hero is tested/ interrogated and as a result prepares to receive either a magical agent or a helper
13. The hero responds to the test/ actions of the future donor
14. The hero gets/ uses the magical object/ helper
15. The hero is transferred to the general location where "the lack" can be resolved

16. The hero and villain in direct combat
17. The hero is branded
18. The villain is defeated
19. "The lack" is set right: the object of the quest is obtained by the hero (often the tale ends here, but can continue.)

20. The hero sets out for home
21. The hero is pursued
22. The hero is rescued from pursuit (sometimes the tale ends here)
23. The hero arrives home or elsewhere and is not recognised
24. A false hero arrives making false claims
25. A difficult task is set for the hero
26. The hero resolves the task

27. The hero is recognised
28. The false hero/ villain is exposed
29. The hero is transformed
30. The villain is punished
31. The hero marries and is crowned

The functions are not prescriptive, rather they are a template from which narratives choose elements. According to Propp, a tale may skip functions but it cannot shuffle their unvarying order. Some narratives subvert the functions (although the functions need to be identifiable in order to be subverted.)

More detail in my archives.




I give a breakdown of the most well-known fairy tales, with a grouping which shows at a glance the main collectors or tellers of each tale. I was curious to have this, and although this little site is hyperlinked to the shoulders of giants, felt that other sites were more focussed on the scholarly. It was originally just my own "control" document for fairy tales, but I realised it could be of use to others, so I neatened it into this. I found Google's blogger excellent in this regard, and was almost shocked at the speed with which I could do it.

Parents, teachers and educationalists - This site should in general be child friendly, but fairy tales are not necessarily children's tales, and I don't usually link to expurgated retellings; for example, note that Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood ends badly! Also, I believe that the Burton 1001 Nights can be both sexual and prejudiced. Other tales may feature attitudes of the nineteenth century or earlier.

This site is unashamedly eurocentric - the folk tales of, for example, India, or China, are beyond my ken, but I would like to link to any sites with a similar approach to mine for tales of other continents or regions. At the moment, the furthest I go afield is the 1001 nights, and my brief section on Russian Tales. I ought also to note that some tales, such as Cinderella, pop up in one form or another near-universally (and Cinderella may in origin be Chinese - witness the concern with foot size.)

I wanted to include a link to Uncle Remus tales, but they don't seem to have a good web presence - in origin Afro-Carribean or possibly Cherokee, featuring the trickster figure Brer Rabbit, and Brer Fox. Brer Rabbit seems to be the original Bugs Bunny.

The research regarding "most well-known" is fairly minimal, but I think accurate and without any glaring omissions; please let me know if you think anything is conspicuous by its absence. I would be interested to see, with a broader sampling, which in the top twenty or so are less familiar to me.
Before going into this, the names I knew were - Grimm and Andersen. Realising the significance of Perrault has been enlightening; I'd heard of him, but wasn't clear on just how many of his tales are the classics - and he only published a small number. Another eye-opener is Joseph Jacobs, who emerges from the main list as a significant collector. I'd never heard of him, but he's something of an English Grimm!

Something that isn't so clear, and deserves a mention - the significance of French courtly women in taking the "old wives' tales" in a literary direction. I give a link for Madame d'Aulnoy, of singular importance in this regard though none of her tales seem to be in the premier league, and Madame de Villeneuve's Beauty and the Beast also emerges from this nexus. There's an interesting article on the web at http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/forconte.html which argues that they used these "fanciful" tales as a subterfuge way of critiquing matters of court.

It seems to be D'Aulnoy who is responsible for the term "fairy tales" - tales of the fairies - as our genre term, confusing since few tales feature fairies as such. It seems to me that this might best be understood as "tales told by the fairies."

A similarly good essay, this one on Russian Fairy Tales -

I've avoided Disney so far, and link only to classic tellings, but inevitably, the taste of most of us has been to some extent subject to a process of disneyfication - I wonder if Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" would figure at all if not for Disney? Some people are mentioning Bambi, and so far I've discounted this, but we are dealing with a fuzzy category. An amusing thing I came across, when trying to find if I could hyperlink Winnie the Pooh or whether it was still in copyright, was that Disney and the people who own the copyright from A.A. Milne have locked horns in a multi-million pound dispute over Winnie; somewhere, Disney have an office devoted to this case, and it's been going on for a decade. It seems that Disney may well lose, and it could have serious repercussions for the company. Clearly, the bear of little brain has grown up a cow of big cash.

Above, I give brief breakdowns of the Aarne-Thompson system of classification, the main system for classifying folk-tales, and of Propp's morphology. Both of these are highly influential - the Aarne-Thompson system still seems to be the international standard.

I give a fuller breakdown of Aarne-Thompson in the archives of this site, but it is in rough. I will try to make it more presentable soon, but I am probably reaching the limits of what this blog can do; I have a much neater Microsoft Word Outline document available on request. My personal feeling is that the Aarne-Thompson system ought to be obsolete, but isn't; developments of information technology provide us with much better tools for ontologies, taxonomies and such, and perhaps the Aarne-Thompson system is now an obstruction. I am not here disparaging their work, which I'm sure was pioneering for the time. I also find it quite frustrating that whoever has ownership of this system does not have a dedicated website, or at least not one which is easy to find, especially as folk-tales and fairy-tales are the heritage of the world.

Propp's morphology is similarly given a fuller but, at the moment, rough presentation in the archives where I give the earlier and most influential chapters of his book in full, and I similarly feel that the morphology has been over-rated, or at least marketed past its sell-by date. Again, this is not the fault of Propp, whose work is admirable, but a fault of ourselves, that we are underlings. From the web, one gets the impression that he has an excellent morphology of - Star Wars. It seems to fit well with a certain kind of quest story, but, without a lot of pushing and shoving, not to most of our data.

I intend to include some stuff on Jungian archetype theory and its later developments (also in danger of being an excellent theory of Star Wars) soon, but my notes are at the moment personal to myself and include too many unacknowledged sources.


Feedback -

My main list holds up to most incoming information from you quite well. I did initially have them in order of how well I could remember them, but re-jigged to put like sources together. My initial list’s higher up entries were very similar, if not identical, to Lynda’s -

Lynda –

Snow white and the seven dwarfs
Sleeping beauty
Hansel and Gretel
Little red riding hood
Jack and the Beanstalk

Stacy –

Rapunzel let down your hair!!!!
Little Red Riding Hood,
Puss In Boots,
Princess and the Pea,
The Gingerbread Man,
Sleeping Beauty, thats me now, Ha Ha, am I good or what!!!! :-)

Which drew our attention to –
The Gingerbread Man (scary for some reason) - which seems to be East European / Scandinavian, collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe, the guys who brought us the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
For more information on runaway food see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gingerbread_Boy
Puss In Boots - Perrault
The Princess and the Pea - Andersen

Stacey notes –

The Little Mermaid - Andersen http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_merma.html
Beauty and the Beast - Madame de Villeneuve
(These I’d heard of but didn’t know the full stories.)

Sandra notes –

The Girl Who Trod On The Loaf - Andersen http://hca.gilead.org.il/girl_who.html
(An unusual Andersen entry and completely new to me.)

Phil has –

Stuwwelpeter - Heinrich Hoffmann http://www.fln.vcu.edu/struwwel/struwwel.html
Dwarf Nose - Wilhelm Hauff
(from the same author, this too looks interesting - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24593/24593-h/24593-h.htm )
Hansel and Gretel - Grimm http://myweb.dal.ca/barkerb/fairies/grimm/015.html
Rapunzel - Grimm http://myweb.dal.ca/barkerb/fairies/grimm/012.html
Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi http://italophiles.com/the_adventures_of_pinocchio.pdf

So I added -

The Little Mermaid (Stacey), The Gingerbread Man (Stacy)
and rate higher -
Beauty and the Beast (Stacey), Puss in Boots, The Princess and the Pea (Stacy).

It is repeated ad nauseam on the web, but I cannot find a reference to a proper original source, that "According to a 2004 poll of 1,200 children by UCI Cinemas, the most popular fairy tales (in the USA) are:
- Cinderella
- Sleeping Beauty
- Hansel and Gretel
- Rapunzel
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Town Musicians"
The last is unfamiliar to me, apparently a Grimm tale.


Notable non-runners -

The Frog Prince / The Frog King - Grimm http://myweb.dal.ca/barkerb/fairies/grimm/001.html
The Goose-Girl - Grimm http://myweb.dal.ca/barkerb/fairies/grimm/089.html
The Fisherman and His Wife - Grimm http://myweb.dal.ca/barkerb/fairies/grimm/019.html
Tom Thumb - Jacobs
Jacobs Miss Mulock
Hop o’ My Thumb or Little Thumb - Perrault
Perrault Lang
Thumbling - Grimm
Thumbling as Journeyman - Grimm
Thumbelina - Andersen
The Little Match Girl - Andersen http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_match.html
The Golden Goose - Grimm
The Twelve Dancing Princesses - Grimm
The Elves and The Shoemaker - Grimm
The Town Musicians - Grimm


Additional Notes -

Andersen’s tales look unfairly low on my original list, but this is simply because he wrote his own tales, unlike Grimm or Perrault who were collectors or re-tellers; The Snow Queen by Andersen is one of my favourite stories of any kind.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, mentioned only by me, is quite anomalous – it may be a traditional tale, but seems to be by Robert Southey, and in earlier versions was an old woman, or an animal of some kind. It does not seem to be in the usual collections. The moral is allegedly to stay out of people’s private stuff, but I think it should be - blondes can get away with anything!

The Pied Piper of Hamelin, collected by Grimm, but not included in their main collection, seems to have been based on some ghastly event in the early history of the town. (Above, I link to a page of sources which includes the poetic interpretation by Robert Browning.)

I have included two of Aesop’s fables; strictly speaking, they might not be fairy tales, but these two seem to me to be easily susceptible to such treatment, and are widely known.

In notable non-runners, I group the whole "Tom Thumb" complex together, giving the most anglicised first (which is Arthurian, and features Merlin). It's one of those tales where I know the name and the general idea, but no plot details, and since nobody else mentioned it, I've not put it on the main list. Nevertheless, in various forms, the idea of a tiny person seems near universal, and we can see that all our main tellers have a version of it.

Must mention as well that Marie tells me Tinkerbell, from Peter Pan, is known throughout the francophone world as "la fee clochette"! Isn't that lovely!

Rough working notes towards a definition –

Strict definition unnecessary? Much of the above a sort of extensive definition?
long-standing, often but not necessarily author unknown / traditional. Have a large overlap with folk tales.
short and suitable for telling in one or a few nights.
often, anthropomorphised animals or transformation into / from animal.
magical, impossible or miraculous events.
unusual sizes - giants, dwarfs, tiny people, very long hair.
idealised royalty, marriage / misrecognition across social gulfs, inheritance, disinheritance.
contractual spells or curses - forbidding and transgression.
an "other" time - distant past?
subtle stylistic conventions - a certain simplicity to social or contractual problems. 3rd person narration, narrator omniscience?

The only exception I can see on our lists to the magical is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which is in a sense more of a moral parable / fable; I was in two minds about including the fables anyway; but with enlarged lists, more exceptions to the magical might pop up. I think it can be difficult to differentiate between an animal fable (often involving anthropomorphised, especially talking, animals) and a fairy tale. There might be a grey area between allegory and symbolism; Perrault often gives an allegorical interpretation at the end of his tales - see his Red Riding Hood above.

Tolkien's classic essay On Fairy-stories - note especially his argument that fairy-stories have no essential connection with children – can be found at -