Celebrate National Poetry Month with Colm Tóibín’s On Elizabeth Bishop


Author photo by Phoebe

Author photo by Phoebe Ling

In the first entry in this month’s National Poetry Month (#npm15) blog series, we are proud to feature Colm Tóibín’s On Elizabeth Bishop, the latest title in the Writers on Writers series. Irish novelist, critic, and playwright Tóibín is both a fan of and known as a master of subtle language (as evidenced by his selection of Henry James’s The Golden Bowl as current host of The Wall Street Journal Book Club), so it is apt that he considers the famously enigmatic American poet Bishop among one of his lasting literary influences.

Tóibín discovered Bishop in his teens and brought her Selected Poems in his suitcase to Barcelona (the setting of his first novels The South and Homage to Barcelona). He offers a personal and incisive introduction to Bishop’s life and work. Spanning her poetry, biography, letters, and prose works, Tóibín creates a beautiful and complex picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has shaped his sensibility as a writer and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own relationships to place, memory, and language.

Tampa Bay TiToibin_OnElizabethBishopmes book editor Colette Bancroft recently selected On Elizabeth Bishop as one of her notable prose books on poetry. Kirkus Reviews writes that Tóibín’s book is “[a]n admiring critical portrait of a great American poet and a master of subtlety….An inspiring appreciation from one writer to another.” A Starred Review in Publishers Weekly reads, “Novelist Tóibín gives an intimate and engaging look at Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry and its influence on his own work. . . . Whether one is familiar with Bishop’s life and work or is looking to Tóibín to learn more, this book will appeal to many readers.” At the Arts Fuse, Lloyd Schwartz calls it “a particularly welcome addition to the Princeton University Press Writers on Writers series. . . . [F]ew critics have dealt more revealingly than Tóibin with Bishop’s habitual illusion of ‘spontaneous’ self-correction, her process of thinking aloud on the page.” Across the pond, poet Eavan Boland writes in the Irish Times:

[C]ritical method at its best….Unorthodox, original and deeply effective….The close mesh between Tóibín’s growth as a writer and Bishop’s journey as a poet, the eloquent mirroring of place and displacement, and above all the openness to a poet’s language, a poet’s truth put this among the best books on poetry I have read in years. I have no doubt it will become an essential text on her work.

Read the first chapter of On Elizabeth Bishop on the PUP site. You can also read eleven of Bishop’s poems, including “One Art” and “The Fish,” at the Academy of American Poets site.

Don’t forget that this year’s Poem in Your Pocket Day is coming up at the end of the month (April 30; #pocketpoem). Which of Bishop’s poems would you want to carry around in your pocket to share with friends and family?

Pi Day Recipe: Apple Pie from Jim Henle’s The Proof and the Pudding

Tomorrow (March 14, 2015) is a very important Pi Day. This year’s local Princeton Pi Day Party and other global celebrations of Albert Einstein’s birthday look to be truly stellar, which is apt given this is arguably the closest we will get to 3.1415 in our lifetimes.

Leading up to the publication of the forthcoming The Proof and the Pudding: What Mathematicians, Cooks, and You Have in Common by Jim Henle, we’re celebrating the holiday with a recipe for a classic Apple Pie (an integral part of any Pi Day spread). Publicist Casey LaVela recreates and photographs the recipe below. Full text of the recipe follows. Happy Pi Day everyone!

Notes on Jim Henle’s Apple Pie recipe from Publicist Casey LaVela

The Proof and the Pudding includes several recipes for pies or tarts that would fit the bill for Pi Day, but the story behind Henle’s Apple Pie recipe is especially charming, the recipe itself is straightforward, and the results are delicious. At the author’s suggestion, I used a mixture of baking apples (and delightfully indulgent amounts of butter and sugar).


All of the crust ingredients (flour, butter, salt) ready to go:


After a few minutes of blending everything together with a pastry cutter, the crust begins to come together. A glorious marriage of flour and butter.


Once the butter and flour were better incorporated, I dribbled in the ice water and then turned the whole wonderful mess out between two sheets of plastic wrap in preparation for folding. The crust will look like it won’t come together, but somehow it always does in the end. Magical.


Now you need to roll out and fold over the dough a few times. This is an important step and makes for a light and flaky crust. (You use a similar process to make croissants or other viennoiserie from scratch.)


I cut the crust into two (for the top crust and bottom crust) using my handy bench scraper:



The apples cored, peeled, and ready to be cut into slices. I broke out my mandolin slicer (not pictured) to make more even slices, but if you don’t own a slicer or prefer to practice your knife skills you can just as easily use your favorite sharp knife.


Beautiful (even) apple slices:


Action shot of me mixing the apple slices, sugar, and cinnamon together. I prefer to prepare my apple pie filling in a bowl rather than sprinkling the dry ingredients over the apple slices once they have been arranged in the bottom crust. I’m not sure if it has much impact on the flavor and it is much, much messier, but I find it more fun.



The bottom crust in the pie plate:


Arrange the apple slices in the bottom crust:


Top with the second crust, seal the top crust to the bottom with your fingers, and (using your sharp knife) make incisions in the top crust to allow steam to escape:


The apple pie before going into the oven (don’t forget to put a little extra sugar on top):


The finished product:


There was a little crust left over after cutting, so I shaped it into another pi symbol, covered it in cinnamon and sugar, and baked it until golden brown. I ate the baked pi symbol as soon as it had cooled (before thinking to take a picture), but it was delicious!


Apple Pie

The story of why I started cooking is not inspiring. My motives weren’t pure. Indeed, they involved several important sins.

I really am a glutton. I love to eat. As a child, I ate well; my mother was a wonderful cook. But I always wanted more than I got, especially dessert. And of all desserts, it was apple pie I craved most. Not diner pies, not restaurant pies, and not bakery pies, but real, homemade apple pies.

When I was six, I had my first homemade apple pie. It was at my grandmother’s house. I don’t remember how it tasted, but I can still recall the gleam in my mother’s eye when she explained the secret of the pie. “I watched her make it. Before she put on the top crust, she dotted the whole thing with big pats of butter!”

Several times as I was growing up, my mother made apple pie. Each one was a gem. But they were too few—only three or four before I went off to college. They were amazing pies. The apples were tart and sweet. Fresh fall apples, so flavorful no cinnamon was needed. The crust was golden, light and crisp, dry when it first hit the tongue, then dissolving into butter.

I grew up. I got married. I started a family. All the while, I longed for that pie. Eventually I set out to make one.

Success came pretty quickly, and it’s not hard to see why. The fact is, despite apple pie’s storied place in American culture, most apple pies sold in this country are abysmal. A pie of fresh, tart apples and a crust homemade with butter or lard, no matter how badly it’s made, is guaranteed to surpass a commercial product.

That means that even if you’ve never made a pie before, you can’t go seriously wrong. The chief difficulty is the crust, but I’ve developed a reliable method. Except for this method, the recipe below is standard.

For the filling:
5 cooking apples (yielding about 5 cups of pieces)
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
2 Tb butter
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
lemon juice, if necessary
1 tsp flour, maybe

For the crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup lard or unsalted butter (1 1/3 sticks)

The crust is crucial. I’ll discuss its preparation last. Assume for now that you’ve rolled out the bottom crust and placed it in the pie pan.

Core, peel, and slice the apples. Place them in the crust. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Dot with butter. Roll out the top crust and place it on top. Seal the edge however you like. In about six places, jab a knife into the crust and twist to leave a hole for steam to escape. Sprinkle the crust with the teaspoon of sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 450° and then another 35 minutes at 350°. Allow to cool. Serve, if you like, with vanilla ice cream or a good aged cheddar.

Now, the crust:

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Place the lard or butter or lard/butter in the bowl. Cut it in with a pastry cutter.

Next, the water. Turn the cold water on in the kitchen sink so that it dribbles out in a tiny trickle. Hold the bowl with the flour mixture in one hand and a knife in the other. Let the water dribble into the bowl while you stir with the knife. The object is to add just enough water so that the dough is transformed into small dusty lumps. Don’t be vigorous with the knife, but don’t allow the water to pool. If the water is dribbling too fast, take the bowl away from the faucet from time to time. When you’re done, the dough will still look pretty dry.

Recipes usually call for about 5 tablespoons of water. This method probably uses about that much.

Actually, the dough will look so dry that you’ll think it won’t stick together when it’s rolled out. In fact, it probably won’t stick together, but trust me. This is going to work.

Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter. Place a bit more than half the dough on the sheet and cover it with a second sheet of plastic.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out between the two sheets. Roll it roughly in the shape of a rectangle.

It won’t look great and it probably would fall apart if you picked it up.

Don’t pick it up. Remove the top sheet of plastic wrap and fold the bottom third up, and fold the top third down, then do the same horizontally, right and left.

Now replace the top sheet of plastic wrap and roll the dough out gently into a disk.

This time it should look pretty decent. This time the dough will stick together.

You should be able to remove the top sheet of plastic and, using the bottom sheet, turn it over into the pie pan. The crust should settle in nicely without breaking.

Form the top crust the same way.

This method rolls each crust twice—usually not a good idea because working the dough makes it tough. But remarkably, crusts produced this way are tender and light. I’m not sure why but I suspect it’s because the dough is fairly dry.

• Cooking apples are tart apples. The best I know is the Rhode Island Greening, but they’re hard to find. Baldwins and Jonathans are decent, but they’re hard to find too. The British Bramleys are terrific. I’ve made good pies from the French Calville Blanc d’Hiver. But we’re not living in good apple times. Most stores don’t sell apples for cooking. When in doubt, use a mixture.
• The lemon juice and the larger quantity of cinnamon are for when you have tired apples with no oomph. The cheese also serves this purpose. It should be a respectable old cheddar and it should be at room temperature.
• Consumption of too many commercial pies makes me loath to add flour or cornstarch to pie filling. The flour is here in case you fear your apples will be too juicy. I don’t mind juice in a pie, in moderation. If adding flour, mix the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a bowl before pouring into the crust.
• Lard is best. Its melting point is higher than butter’s. It successfully separates the flour into layers for a light, crispy crust. Butter is more likely to saturate the flour and produce a heavy crust. Some like half butter/half lard, preferring butter for its flavor. But the flavor of lard is nice too, and its porkiness is wonderful with apple.

This recipe is taken from:


The Proof and the Pudding

What Mathematicians, Cooks, and You Have in Common

Jim Henle

“If you’re a fan of Julia Child or Martin Gardner—who respectively proved that anyone can have fun preparing fancy food and doing real mathematics—you’ll enjoy this playful yet passionate romp from Jim Henle. It’s stuffed with tasty treats and ingenious ideas for further explorations, both in the kitchen and with pencil and paper, and draws many thought-providing parallels between two fields not often considered in the same mouthful.”—Colm Mulcahy, author of Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects

Celebrate National Grammar Day with Frank Cioffi’s One Day in the Life of the English Language

Grammar: It’s the difference between knowing your stuff and knowing you’re stuff. Some even say it saves lives (see below). If you haven’t noticed, today is National Grammar Day (March 4), so here at Princeton University Press we are celebrating good grammar, proper punctuation, and clear communication with Frank L. Cioffi’s anti-textbook handbook, One Day in the Life of the English Language: A Microcosmic Usage Handbook.

Cioffi’s chatty and charming reference doesn’t just lay out the “rules,” but also makes a convincing case for why good grammar and usage matter. Cioffi argues that Standard Written English (also known as “formal English”) is vital for success in professions where exactness and clarity carry great importance, and he also proposes that correct English can foster a more honest, ethical, and functional culture of communication.

The book draws on some three hundred real-world sentences printed in eleven newspapers and six weekly magazines and published on a single, typical day (December 29, 2008). Cioffi emphasizes that English usage is continually evolving and he debunks some of the most popular grammar “rules.” Is it acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition? It is. Can you start a sentence with a conjunction? You can. Is it “correct” to use split infinitives. Sure.

What do you think? Does “formal” English still matter in the post-Twitter world?


Check out the introduction and let us know.

We’ve also been tweeting out #NationalGrammarDay #protips from the book today.

Happy National Grammar Day!

Photo via Brett Jordan / Flickr

Q&A with Michael Harris, author of Mathematics without Apologies

What do pure mathematicians do, and why do they do it? Looking beyond the conventional answers—for the sake of truth, beauty, and practical applications—Michael Harris offers an eclectic panorama of the lives and values and hopes and fears of mathematicians in the twenty-first century, assembling material from a startlingly diverse assortment of scholarly, journalistic, and pop culture sources.

Princeton University Press catches up with Michael Harris, author of Mathematics without Apologies, to talk about the culture of math and what writing has to do with the pace of innovation.


PUP: What is the book about? 

MH: The preface claims the book is “about how hard it is to write a book about mathematics.” This becomes less self-referential and paradoxical if the sentence is completed: “… without introducing distortions that transform the book into one about certain conventional images of mathematics.” One thing I had to learn when I started trying to explain what it means to be a mathematician was that the point of an  activity like mathematics doesn’t speak for itself through the products of the activity. If you try to find a simple definition of mathematics you’ll see it’s not so easy. As a first approximation we might say that “mathematics is what mathematicians do, plus the stories that are told about that.” The book is then about mathematics in that sense, with an emphasis on the stories, and not only the conventional ones, nor only the stories told by mathematicians.

Why did you write this book?

MH: For a long time I have been hoping to see a book about mathematics, for the non-specialist public, that broke with stereotypes and clichés and a predictable stock of references, and instead reflected the values to which mathematicians refer when we talk to one another. At the same time, I hoped the book, while not being a historical study, would at least acknowledge that these values have a history, and would take seriously the idea that mathematics also belongs to cultural history, by exploring the roots of some of the notions and habits of thought that mathematicians take for granted, using the tools of cultural analysis—but without adopting the elevated tone that is too common in this kind of exercise.

I have written a few book reviews and articles with these hopes in mind, waiting for someone to take the hint. In recent years several mathematicians have made a valiant effort to challenge stereotypes by writing about mathematics as a living activity, and a few writers have examined mathematics through the lens of cultural criticism; but it’s still sadly the case that when mathematicians write the word “culture” the reader can nearly always expect a dose of uplift. Soon enough I realized I would have to write the book myself.

There’s a more selfish reason as well:  I thought it would be prudent to develop a second skill, to prepare for the dire moment when the pace of  new developments in my mathematical specialty began to outstrip my ability to keep up with them, and I would need to find a different way to keep my brain occupied. Writing was the only plausible option. Strangely enough, when I reached the end of the book I found I could still function reasonably well as a mathematician, even though the pace of innovation in my field has suddenly accelerated—but that’s another story.

The text refers to any number of controversies and polemics, historical or contemporary. But you don’t come down clearly in favor of a solid position on anything. Is this a “postmodern” book?

MH: I am certainly opinionated about a great many things, and it is my considered opinion that most of the sharpest controversies—like platonism vs. nominalism, or positions on what Wigner called “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics”—miss the features that make it really interesting to be a mathematician. To avoid distracting the reader with pointless polemics, I consciously chose to present those features with a minimum of ideological adornment, and to allude to controversies only obliquely. I’m told there’s a risk that some will find it disorienting to read a book about mathematics that doesn’t tell them what to think; but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

What’s with all the endnotes?

MH: Two of the blurbs describe the author as “erudite,” which is a kind thing to write but is unfortunately far from the truth.  It’s amazing how easy the internet has made it to look well-read; it helps to think of asking questions different from the ones that are usually asked. The endnotes and the extensive bibliography are there, in the first place, to convince the reader, that mathematics really does deal intimately with an extraordinarily varied range of experience. I hope in particular that genuine scholars can use this material to expand their sense of what’s relevant in writing about mathematics.

In the second place, the notes are there to convince the reader that I didn’t make things up. But please don’t get the impression that I actually read more than a few pages of most of the references quoted.

The notes are also a convenient hiding place for the author’s true opinions. But what do they matter?

Describe your writing process. How long did it take you to finish your book? Where do you write?

MH: Each chapter started with a clear-cut theme, though some of them led me in unexpected directions. Chapter 8, for example, was supposed to be an exploration of why it’s so important for mathematics to appear to be serious, and specifically why so much is written about the supposed affinity between mathematics and classical music. The “trickster” theme was supposed to serve as an indirect way of introducing the question of mathematical seriousness. But mathematical “tricks” turned out to have such a rich and unfamiliar history that they tricked themselves into the chapter’s main theme.

Each chapter’s theme evolved as I collected relevant material. Some of the material organized itself into a plausible narrative outline. Then the actual writing began.   The individual paragraphs were easy enough to complete, but assembling them in a coherent order often enough presented an impossible mathematical problem: I need to talk about B before I can explain C, and B is incomprehensible until I talk about A; but it makes no sense to bring up A without having already mentioned C. Resolving this kind of problem is what took up most of the time between when I started writing in early 2011 and when I submitted a completed manuscript three years later. Usually it was only possible in a state of total isolation, which I could only maintain for a few days at most.

At the end I found myself discarding enough material for at least two books the same length. But there’s no reason to write them, because they would say the same thing!

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

MH: Anyone who is willing to take seriously the idea that mathematics deserves respect, not only because it can be used to provide efficient solutions to practical problems (though that is eminently worthy of respect), but also as a living community, a cultural form, an autonomous domain of experience.

Check out the introduction to Mathematics without Apologies here. The book was recently reviewed at Library Journal and Peter Woit’s Not Even Wrong.

“On the twelfth day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.

twelve brothers

The Twelve Brothers

Once upon a time there was a king who had twelve children, all boys. Moreover, he didn’t want to have a daughter and said to his wife: “If you give birth to our thirteenth child, and it’s a girl, I shall have the twelve boys killed. However, if it’s a boy, then they’ll all remain alive and stay together.” The queen thought of talking him out of this, but the king refused to hear anything more about this topic.

“If everything turns out like I said, they must die. I’d rather chop off their heads myself than let a girl be among them.”

The queen was sad about this because she loved her sons with all her heart and didn’t know how she could save them. Finally, she went to the youngest, who was her favorite, and revealed to him what the king had decided.

“Dearest child,” she said, “go into the forest with your eleven brothers. Stay there, and don’t come home. One of you should keep watch on a tree and look over here toward the tower. If I give birth to a little son, I’ll raise a white flag on top of the tower. However, if it’s a little daughter, I’ll raise a red flag. If you all see that it’s red, then save yourselves. Flee into the wide world, and may our dear Lord protect you. I’ll get up every night and pray that you won’t freeze in the winter and are able to warm yourselves by a fire and that when it’s hot in the summer, you can rest in a cool forest and sleep.”

After she gave her blessing to her sons, they went out into the forest, where they frequently looked toward the tower. One of them had to sit on top of a high tree and constantly keep watch. Soon a flag was hoisted, but it wasn’t a white one. It was a blood-red flag that foreshadowed their doom. As soon as the brothers caught sight of it, they all became angry and cried out: “Why should we lose our lives because of a girl?”

Then they all swore to remain in the middle of the forest and to keep on their guard, and if a maiden were to appear, they would kill her without mercy.

Soon after this they searched for a cave where the forest was the darkest, and that’s where they began to live. Every morning eleven of the brothers went off to hunt. One of them had to remain home, cook, and keep house. Whenever they encountered a maiden, she was treated without mercy and lost her life. This is how they lived for many years.

In the meantime their little sister grew up and was the only child left at home. One day there was a large amount of washing to do, and among the clothes there were twelve shirts for boys.

“Whose shirts are these?” the princess asked the washerwoman. “They’re much too small for my father.”

It was then that the washerwoman told her that she had once had twelve brothers, but they had mysteriously gone away. Nobody knew where because the king had wanted to have them killed, and the twelve shirts belonged to the twelve brothers. The little sister was astonished that she had never heard of her twelve brothers, and during the afternoon as the clothes were drying and she was sitting in the meadow, she recalled the words of the washerwoman. After giving considerable thought to what she had heard, she stood up, took the twelve shirts, and went into the forest where her brothers were living.

The little sister made her way straight to the cave that served as her brothers’ dwelling. Eleven of them were out hunting, and only one of them who had to cook was at home. When he caught sight of the maiden, he composed himself and drew his sword.

“Kneel down! Your red blood will flow this very second!”

But the maiden pleaded: “Dear sir, let me live. I’ll stay with you and serve you honestly. I’ll cook and keep house.”

She spoke these words to the youngest brother, and he took pity on her because of her beauty and spared her life. Later, when his eleven brothers returned home and were astonished to find a maiden alive in their cave, he said to them: “Dear brothers, this girl came to our cave, and when I wanted to cut her to pieces, she pleaded for her life so much and said that she would serve us faithfully and keep house that I spared her life.”

The others thought that this would be a great benefit to them because now all twelve of them could go hunting, and they were satisfied with this arrangement. Then the maiden showed them the twelve shirts and told them that she was their sister. Indeed, they were all very happy about this and were glad that they hadn’t killed her.

Now the little sister took over all the household chores, and when the brothers went out hunting, she gathered wood and herbs, kept the fire going, made up the beds nice and white and clean, and did everything with zeal and without getting tired.

One day, when she was finished with all the work, she took a walk in the woods and came to a place where there were twelve large beautiful white lilies. Since they pleased her so much, she plucked all twelve of them. No sooner did she do this than an old woman stood before her.

“Oh, my daughter,” she said, “why didn’t you let the twelve budding flowers just stand there? They’re your twelve brothers. Now they’ve been changed into ravens and are lost forever.”

The little sister began to weep and said, “Isn’t there any way that I can save them?”

“No, there isn’t any way in the world except one that’s so difficult you won’t be able to rescue them. You must spend the next twelve years with- out speaking. If you say one single word, even if there’s only an hour left, everything will be in vain, and your brothers will die that very moment.”

Well, the little sister responded by climbing a tall tree in the forest, where she took a place. She wanted to sit there twelve years without say- ing a word to free her brothers. But it so happened that a king was out riding and hunting in the forest, and as he rode by the tree, his dog stood still and barked. So the king stopped, looked up, and was very amazed by the princess’s beauty. He called to her and asked her whether she wanted to become his wife. However, she remained silent and only nodded a bit with her head. So the king himself dismounted, helped her down from the tree, and lifted her up before him onto his horse. Then he brought her home to his castle. Meanwhile the princess did not utter one word, and the king thought that she was mute. They would have lived happily with one another if it hadn’t been for the king’s mother, who began to slander the young queen in front of her son.

“She’s a common beggar that you’ve dug up from nowhere, and she’s doing the most disgraceful things behind your back!”

Since the young queen couldn’t defend herself, the king was led astray and finally believed what his mother said. So, he sentenced his wife to death, and a enormous fire was built in the courtyard, where she was to be burned to death.

Soon the queen was standing in the flames that grazed the fringes of her dress. One minute was left before the twelve years of her silence would be completed. There was a noise in the air, and twelve ravens swooped down into the courtyard. As soon as they touched the ground, they became twelve handsome princes who instantly put out the fire’s flames and led their sister to safety. Then she spoke once again and told the king how everything had happened and how she had to save her twelve brothers. Indeed, they were all pleased that everything turned out so well.

Now they had to decide what they should do with the evil mother-in- law. Well, they stuck her into a barrel full of boiling oil and poisonous snakes, and she died a ghastly death.


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö
Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the eleventh day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.

simple hans

Simple Hans

Once a king lived happily with his daughter, who was his only child. Then, all of a sudden, she gave birth to a baby, and no one knew who the father was. For a long time the king didn’t know what to do. At last he ordered the princess to take the child and go to the church. Once there, a lemon was to be placed in the hands of the child, and the boy was to walk about and offer it to a man. As soon as boy stopped and chose a man, they would know that he was child’s father, and he would be declared the princess’s husband. Everything was arranged accordingly, and the king also gave orders to allow only highborn people into the church.

However, there was a crooked little hunchback living in the city who was not particularly smart and was therefore called Simple Hans. Well, he managed to push his way into the church among the others without being noticed, and when the child offered the lemon, he handed it to Simple Hans. The princess was mortified, and the king was so upset that he had his daughter, the child, and Simple Hans stuck into a barrel, which was cast into the sea. The barrel soon floated off, and when they were alone at sea, the princess groaned and said, “You nasty, impudent hunchback! You’re to blame for my misfortune! Why did you force your way into the church? My child’s of no concern to you.”

“That’s not true,” said Simple Hans. “He does concern me because I once made a wish that you would have a child, and whatever I wish comes true.”

“Well, if that’s the case, wish us something to eat.”

“That’s easily done,” replied Simple Hans, and he wished for a dish full of potatoes. The princess would have liked to have something better. Nevertheless, she was so hungry that she joined him in eating the potatoes. After they had satisfied their hunger, Simple Hans said, “Now I’ll wish us a beautiful ship!”

No sooner had he said this than they were sitting on a splendid ship that contained more than enough to fulfill their desires. The helmsman guided the ship straight toward land, and when they went ashore, Simple Hans said, “Now I want a castle over there!”

Suddenly there was a magnificent castle standing there, along with servants dressed in golden uniforms. They led the princess and her child inside, and when they were in the middle of the main hall, Simple Hans said, “Now I wish to be a young and clever prince!”

All at once his hunchback disappeared, and he was handsome, upright, and kind. Indeed, the princess took such a great liking to him that she became his wife.

For a long time they lived happily together, and then one day the old king went out riding, lost his way, and arrived at their castle. He was puzzled because he had never seen it before and decided to enter. The princess recognized her father immediately, but he did not recognize her, for he thought she had drowned in the sea a long time ago. She treated him with a great deal of hospitality, and when he was about to return home, she secretly slipped a golden cup into his pocket. After he had ridden off, she sent a pair of knights after him. They were ordered to stop him and search him to see if he had stolen the golden cup. When they found it in his pocket, they brought him back. He swore to the princess that he hadn’t stolen it and didn’t know how it had gotten into his pocket.

“That’s why,” she said, “one must beware of rushing to judgment.” And she revealed to him that she was his daughter. The king rejoiced, and they all lived happily together, and after the king’s death, Simple Hans became king.


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the tenth day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.


The Long Nose

Once there were three old discharged soldiers who were so old that they could no longer eat even milk pudding. The king sent them away and didn’t give them a pension. Consequently, they had nothing to live on and had to go begging. One day they began walking through a large forest and were unable to reach the end. When night arrived, two of them lay down to sleep, and the third kept watch so that the wild animals wouldn’t tear them to pieces. After the two soldiers had fallen asleep and while the third was standing guard, a little dwarf in a red outfit appeared and cried out, “Who’s there?”

“Good friends,” said the soldier. “What kind of good friends?”

“Three old discharged soldiers who have nothing to live on.”

The dwarf then called him over, saying that he wanted to give him something. If the soldier took care of it, the dwarf explained, he would have enough to live on for the rest of his life. So the soldier went over to him, and the dwarf gave him an old cloak that would grant every wish made by the person wearing it. But the soldier was not to tell his comrades about it until daylight. When day finally came and they woke up, he told them what had happened. They continued to walk deeper into the forest until the second night. When they lay down to sleep, the second soldier had to keep watch and stood guard over the others. Then the red dwarf came and cried out, “Who’s there?”

“Good friends.”

“What kind of good friends?”

“Three old discharged soldiers.”

Then the dwarf gave him an old little pouch that would always remain full of money no matter how much he took from it. However, he was not to tell his comrades about it until daylight. Once again they continued their walk through the forest for a third day, and that night the third soldier had to keep watch. The red dwarf came to him too and cried out, “Who’s there?”

“Good friends.”

“What kind of good friends?”

“Three old discharged soldiers.”

The red dwarf gave him a horn, and whenever anyone blew it, all the soldiers from all over would gather together. The next morning, when each one now had a gift, the first soldier put on the cloak and wished that they were out of the forest. Immediately they were outside. They then went into an inn and ordered food and drink, the best that the innkeeper could provide. When they had finished, the soldier with the little pouch paid everything and was very generous to the innkeeper.

Soon they became tired from traveling, and the soldier with the pouch said to the one with the cloak, “I’d like you to wish for a castle for us. We’ve got money enough. Now we can live like kings.”

So the soldier with the cloak wished for a castle, and quick as a wink it was standing there with everything that went with a castle. After they had lived there for some time, he wished for a coach with three white horses.

They wanted to travel from one kingdom to the next and pass themselves off as three princes. So they drove off with a great retinue of servants, who looked quite regal, and went to a king who had only one daughter. When they arrived, they had themselves announced. Immediately, they were asked to dinner and to spend the night there. They had a merry old time, and after they had eaten and drunk, they began to play cards, which was the princess’s favorite game. She played with the soldier who had the pouch, and she saw that no matter how much she won, his pouch never became empty, and she realized that it must be some sort of a magical thing. So she said to him then that since he had become so warm from playing, he should have something to drink. She gave him a glass but put a sleeping potion into the wine. No sooner had he drunk the wine than he fell asleep, and she took his pouch. Then she went into her chamber and sewed another pouch that looked just like the old one. Finally, she stuck some money inside it and put it back in place of the old one.

The next morning the three soldiers resumed their journey, and when the one with the pouch spent the little money that was left and reached inside the pouch for some more, he found it was empty and remained empty. Then he exclaimed, “That deceitful princess has switched my pouch. Now we’re poor people!”

But the soldier with the cloak said, “Don’t get gray hairs over this. I’ll have it back in no time.”

He put on the cloak and wished himself to be transported to the princess’s chamber. Within seconds he was there, and she was sitting and counting money, which she continually took from the pouch. When she saw him, she screamed that a robber was there. And she screamed so loudly that the entire court came running and tried to catch him. Hastily he jumped through a window and left the cloak hanging there, so that this, too, was lost.

When the three soldiers came together again, they had nothing left but the horn. The soldier with the horn said, “I’ll get help now. Let’s start a war!” And he blew together so many hussar and cavalry regiments that they were impossible to count. Next he sent a messenger to the king to let him know that if the king didn’t return the pouch and the cloak, not a single stone from his castle would be left standing. The king tried to persuade his daughter to return the cloak and pouch before they suffered a great misfortune. But she wouldn’t listen to him and said that she wanted to try something first. So she disguised herself as a poor maiden, carried a basket on her arm, and went out to the soldiers’ camp to sell all kinds of drinks. Her chambermaid had to go along with her. When the princess reached the middle of the camp, she began to sing, and her voice was so beautiful that all the soldiers ran out of their tents, and the one with the horn ran out too and listened. When the princess saw him, she gave her chambermaid a signal to crawl into his tent, where the chambermaid took the horn and ran back with it to the castle. Then the princess also went home and now had everything. Once again the three comrades had to go begging. So they moved on, and the one who had possessed the pouch said, “You know, we can’t stay together anymore. You two go in that direction, and I’ll take this path.”

He set out alone and entered a forest, and since he was tired, he lay down beneath a tree to sleep awhile. When he awoke and looked up, he became aware that he had been sleeping under a beautiful apple tree with splendid apples hanging from the branches. Out of hunger he took one, ate it, and then another. Suddenly his nose began to grow and grow and became so long that he could no longer stand up. His nose grew through the forest and sixty miles beyond. Meanwhile, his comrades were traveling about in the world and looking for him because they felt it was better to be together. However, they had been unable to find him. Suddenly, one of them tripped over something and stepped on it. He thought, “My, what was that?” Then it moved, and he saw that it was a nose. The two soldiers decided to follow the nose, and eventually they reached their comrade in the forest. He was lying there and couldn’t stir nor budge. So they took a pole and wrapped the nose around it. They wanted to lift it in the air and carry him away, but the nose was too heavy. Then they looked in the forest for a donkey, and they set their friend and the long nose on two poles and had the donkey carry him away in this manner. They dragged him a short distance, but they found him so heavy that they had to rest. While they were resting, they saw a tree nearby with beautiful pears hanging from the branches. Then the little red dwarf came out from behind the tree and said to the soldier with the long nose that, if he ate one of the beautiful pears, the nose would fall off. So he ate a pear, and right away the long nose fell off, and his nose was exactly the size it had been before. Thereupon the dwarf said, “Break off some apples and pears and make some powder out of them. Whenever you give someone the apple powder, the nose will grow, and whenever you give someone the pear powder, the nose will fall off again. Now, go as a doctor and give the princess some of the apples and also the powder. Then her nose will grow even twenty times longer than yours. But brace yourself for anything that might happen!”

So the soldier took some of the apples and went to the king’s court, where he at first pretended to be a gardener’s helper. He said he had special apples that couldn’t be found anywhere in the region, and when the princess heard about this, she asked her father if she could buy some of the apples. The king replied, “Buy as many as you wish.”

So she bought the apples and ate one. It tasted so good that she was convinced that she had never tasted an apple like it in her entire life. Then she ate another one, and once she did this, the gardener’s helper departed, and her nose began to grow. It grew so tremendously that she couldn’t get up out of her chair and fell over. Her nose grew sixty yards around the table, sixty around the closet, and a hundred yards through the window and around the castle and another twenty miles out toward the city. There she lay. She couldn’t stir nor budge, and none of the doctors could help her. The old king issued a proclamation that any man who could help his daughter would receive a great deal of money.

The old soldier had waited for this moment and announced himself as a doctor. He promised to save her with God’s help. Thereupon he gave her powder from the apples, and her nose began to grow once more and became even longer. That evening he gave her powder from the pears, and the nose became somewhat smaller, but not much. The next day he gave her powder from the apples again in order to scare her soundly and punish her. The nose grew again, but not more than had fallen off the day before. Finally, he said to her, “Your Royal Highness, you must have stolen something at one time. If you don’t give it up, there’ll be no help for you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said.

“You must,” he responded. “Otherwise, my powder won’t help, and if you don’t give up what you’ve stolen, you’ll die from the long nose.”

Then the old king said, “Give up the pouch, the cloak, and the horn that you’ve stolen. Otherwise, your nose will never become small again.”

So the chambermaid had to fetch all three things and put them down. Now the doctor gave the princess powder from the pears. Her nose fell off, and two hundred and fifty men had to come and chop the nose into pieces. Meanwhile, the soldier went away with the pouch, the cloak, and the horn and returned to his comrades. Then they wished to be back in their castle, where they are probably still sitting and keeping house.


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the ninth day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.

godfather sparrow

Loyal Godfather Sparrow

Once upon a time there was a deer about to give birth, and she asked the fox to be the godfather. However, the fox invited the sparrow to be godfather as well, and the sparrow also wanted to invite his special good friend the house dog to be godfather. However, the dog’s master had tied him up with a rope because the dog had returned home very drunk from a wedding. The sparrow thought that this was not a problem and pecked and pecked at the rope one thread after the other as long as it took for the dog to be released. Now they went together to the godfathers’ banquet and enjoyed themselves very much, because there was plenty to eat and drink there. The dog , however, didn’t pay attention and drank too much wine again. When they stood up, his head was so heavy that he could barely stand on his four legs. Nevertheless, he staggered part of the way toward home. Finally, however, he fell over and remained lying in the middle of the road. Just then a carter came and wanted to drive over him with his cart.

“Carter, don’t do that,” the sparrow cried out, “or you’ll pay for it with your life!”

However, the carter didn’t listen to him. Instead, he whipped the horses and drove the horses right over the dog so that the wheels broke the dog’s bones. The fox and the sparrow dragged the godfather home, and when dog’s master saw him, he said: “He’s dead,” and gave him to the carter to bury.

Now, the carter thought that the dog’s skin was still useful. So he loaded the dog onto his cart and drove away. However, the sparrow flew nearby and yelled out: “Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life! Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life!”

The carter was angry at the little bird because he thought he was being taken for a fool. So he grabbed his axe and tried to hit the sparrow, who flew higher into the air. Instead of hitting the sparrow, the carter hit his horse’s head so that the horse fell down dead. The carter had to leave it lying there and drive on with the other two horses. Then the sparrow returned and sat down on the head of another horse.

“Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life!”

The carter ran toward the bird and yelled: “I’ve got you!” but as he tried to hit the sparrow, he struck his horse on the head so that it fell over dead. Now there was only one horse left. The sparrow didn’t wait long and sat down on the head of the third horse and cried out: “Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life!”

But the carter was now so furious that he didn’t think about what he was doing and just swung his axe randomly. Now all his three horses had been beaten to death, and he had to leave the cart standing there. Angry and vitriolic he went home and sat down behind the oven. But the sparrow had flown after him, sat down in front of the window, and cried out: “Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life!”

The carter grabbed his axe and smashed the window, but he didn’t hit the sparrow. Now the bird hopped inside the house, sat down on top of the oven, and cried out: “Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life!”

Crazy and blind with rage he chopped the entire oven to pieces, and as the sparrow flew from one place to another, the carter smashed all the household utensils, mirrors, chairs, benches, table, and the walls of the house. Finally, he grabbed hold of the sparrow and said: “Now I’ve got you!” He stuck the bird into his mouth and swallowed it whole. However, when the sparrow was in the carter’s body, it began to flap its wings, and it fluttered up to the carter’s mouth, stuck its head outside, and cried out: “Carter, you’ll pay for this with your life!”

Well now the carter gave the axe to his wife and commanded; “Wife, strike the bird in my mouth and kill it!”

But the wife missed her mark, and instead she struck her husband in the head so that he immediately fell down the ground dead, while the sparrow flew out and away.


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the eighth day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.

devil in green coat

The Devil in the Green Coat

There were once three brothers, and the two eldest used to push the youngest around, and when they decided to go out into the world, they said to him: “We don’t need you. You can go off wandering by yourself.”

Then they left him, and he had to set off all alone. When he came to a large meadow, he was very hungry and sat down beneath a ring of trees and began to weep. All of a sudden he heard a roar, and when he looked up, the devil came toward him. He was dressed in a green coat and had a cloven foot.

“What’s the matter?” he spoke. “Why are you weeping ?”

Then the young man told him his troubles and said: “My brothers have driven me away from them.”

“Well, I’m willing to help you,” replied the devil. “If you put this green coat on, you’ll see that it has pockets that are always full of money. You just have to dig into the pockets whenever you like. But in exchange for the coat I demand that you don’t wash yourself for seven years, that you don’t comb your hair, and that you don’t pray. If you die during the seven years, then you are mine. If, however, you live, then you’ll be free. In addition, you’ll be rich for the rest of your life.”

The young man’s troubles were so great that they drove him to accept the devil’s bargain. So the devil took off the green coat, and the young man put it on. As soon as he stuck his hand in a pocket, he had a handful of money.

Now he set out into the world with the green coat, and the first year was good. He could pay for anything he liked with his money, and he was still regarded as a human being for the most part. Things became worse in the second year. His hair had grown so long that nobody could recognize him and nobody would give him lodging for the night because he looked so atrocious. The more time passed, the worse it became. However, he gave poor people a lot of money so that they would pray for him and request that he wouldn’t die during the seven years and fall in the devil’s hands.

At a certain point in the fourth year he came to an inn, and the innkeeper wouldn’t let him stay there. However, he took out a heap of money and was willing to pay in advance so that the innkeeper gave him a room. That evening he heard a loud moaning in the neighboring room, and so he went next door and saw an old man sitting there. He was crying and complaining about something and told the young man to go away because he wouldn’t be able to help him. The young man asked him, however, what was troubling him. The old man told him that he didn’t have any money and that he owed the innkeeper a great deal. And now he was being detained until he paid his debt. Then the young man in the green coat said: “If that’s all it is, I’ve got plenty of money. I’ll pay, and you’ll be freed of your debts.” Now the old man had three beautiful daughters and told him to come along with him, and he would give him one of the daughters for his reward. So the young man went with him, and when they arrived at the old man’s home and the eldest daughter saw him, she screamed and cried that she would never marry such a hideous man who didn’t have human traits and looked like a bear. The second daughter immediately ran off and preferred to set out into the wide world than marry the young man. However, the youngest said, “Dear father, since you’ve promised him and he’s helped you get out of trouble, I shall obey you.”

So the young man in the green coat took a ring from his finger and broke it in two. Then he gave her one half and kept the other for himself. He wrote his name in her half and her name in his half and told her to keep her half in a safe place. Afterward he stayed a little while longer with her until he said, “Now I must take my leave. I shall be gone three years. Be true to me during this time. Then I’ll return, and we’ll celebrate our wedding. If I don’t return in three years, you’ll be free, and I shall be dead. However, pray for me and ask God to protect me.”

Now, during the three years, the two older sisters made a great deal of fun of the youngest and said that she couldn’t get a real man and would have to marry a bear. However, the youngest daughter kept quiet and thought, “I must obey my father no matter what.”

In the meantime the young man in the green coat traveled about the world and often stuck his hand into a pocket to buy the most beautiful things he saw for his bride. He didn’t do anything evil. Indeed, he only did good deeds wherever he could and gave poor people money so that they would pray for him. So God showed him mercy, and the three years flew by and he was healthy and alive. Now that the time was over, he went back to the meadow and sat down under the ring of trees. Once again there was a tremendous roar, and the devil arrived. He grumbled and viciously threw the young man’s old coat at him and demanded the green one in return. Well, the young man was glad to take off the green coat and handed it to the devil.

He was now free and rich for the rest of his life. So he went home, cleaned himself, and moved on to visit his bride. When he came to the door, the father met him. The young man greeted him and said he was the bridegroom, but the father didn’t recognize him and wouldn’t believe him. When the young man went over to the bride, she, too, wouldn’t believe him. Finally, he asked whether she still had her half of the ring. She said, yes, and went to fetch it. Then he took out his half and held it next to hers, and they matched. Now they knew that he was definitely the bridegroom. And when she saw that he was a handsome man, she was very happy and fond of him, and they held the wedding. However, since the two sisters had passed up their chance for happiness, they became so furious that one of them drowned herself on the wedding day, and the other hanged herself.

That evening something knocked and banged on the door, and when the bridegroom went and opened it, the devil was standing there in his green coat and said, “You see! Now I’ve got two souls instead of just yours!”


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the seventh day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.


Hans My Hedgehog

Once there was a rich farmer, and he and his wife didn’t have any children. When he went into town with the other farmers, they often made fun of him and asked why he had no children. One day he finally got angry, and when he went home, he said, “I want to have a child, even if it’s a hedgehog.” Then his wife gave birth to a child whose upper half was hedgehog and bottom half, human. When she saw the child, she was horrified and said,

“You see how you cursed us!”

“There’s nothing we can do about it now,” said her husband. “The boy must be christened, but we’ll never find a godfather for him.”

“There’s only one name I can think of for him,” said the wife, “and that’s Hans My Hedgehog.”

After he was christened, the pastor said, “He won’t be able to sleep in a regular bed because of his quills.”

Consequently, they gathered together some straw, spread it on the floor behind the stove, and laid Hans My Hedgehog on it. His mother couldn’t nurse him because he might have stuck her with his quills. So he lay behind the stove for eight years, and eventually his father got tired of him and wished he might die, but he didn’t die. He just kept lying there.

One day there was a fair in town, and the farmer decided to go to it and asked his wife if she wanted anything.

“Some meat and a few rolls,” she said. “That’s all we need for the house.” Then he asked the maid, and she wanted a pair of slippers and hand- sewn stockings. Finally, he went and asked his son, “Hans My Hedgehog, what would you like to have?”

“Father,” he said, “just bring me back some bagpipes.”

When the farmer returned home, he gave his wife the meat and rolls he had bought. Then he handed the maid the slippers and hand-sewn stockings. Finally, he went behind the stove and gave Hans My Hedgehog his bagpipes. Upon receiving the bagpipes, he said, “Father, please go to the blacksmith and have him shoe my rooster. Then I’ll ride away and never come back.”

The father was happy at the idea of getting rid of him and had his rooster shod. When the rooster was ready, Hans My Hedgehog mounted it and rode away, taking some donkeys and pigs with him, which he wanted to tend out in the forest. Once he reached the forest, he had the rooster fly him up into a tall tree, where he sat and tended the donkeys and pigs. Indeed, he sat there for many years until the herd was very large, and he never sent word to his father about his whereabouts.

As he sat in the tree he played his bagpipes and made some beautiful music. One day a king, who had lost his way in the forest, came riding by. When he heard the music, he was so astonished that he sent his servant to look around and see where the music was coming from. The servant looked around, but all he could see was a small animal, sitting up in a tree, that seemed to be a rooster with a hedgehog sitting on top of it playing music. The king told the servant to ask the creature why he was sitting there and whether he knew the way back to the king’s country. Hans My Hedgehog climbed down from the tree and said he would show him the way if the king would promise in writing to give him the first thing he met at the castle courtyard when he returned home.

“No danger in that,” thought the king. “Hans My Hedgehog can’t understand writing, so I can write whatever I want.” The king took pen and ink and wrote something down, and after he had done this, Hans My Hedgehog showed him the way, and the king arrived home safely. When his daughter saw him coming from afar, she was so overcome with joy that she ran out to meet him and kissed him. Then he thought of Hans My Hedgehog and explained to her what had happened: he had been forced to make a promise in writing to a strange creature who had demanded to have the first thing the king met upon returning home. This creature had been sitting on a rooster as though it were a horse and had been playing beautiful music. The king told his daughter that he had, however, written down that Hans My Hedgehog was not to get what he demanded.

Anyway, it made no difference because he couldn’t read. The princess was happy to hear that and said it was a good thing since she would never have gone with him anyway.

Hans My Hedgehog continued tending his donkeys and pigs. He was always cheerful sitting there perched in his tree, playing his bagpipes. Now it happened that another king came driving by with his servants and couriers. He too had lost his way, and the forest was so large that he didn’t know how to get back home. He too heard the beautiful music from afar and told a courier to go and see what it was. So the courier went to the tree and saw the rooster sitting there with Hans My Hedgehog on its back, and the courier asked him what he was doing up there.

“I’m tending my donkeys and pigs, but what can I do for you?”

The courier asked him whether he could show them the way out of the forest since they were lost and couldn’t make it back to their kingdom. Hans My Hedgehog climbed down from the tree with his rooster and told the old king that he would show him the way if the king would give him the first thing that met him when he returned home to his royal castle. The king agreed and put it in writing that Hans My Hedgehog was to have what he demanded. When that was done, Hans My Hedgehog rode ahead of him on the rooster and showed the way. The king reached his kingdom safely, and as he entered the castle courtyard, there was great rejoicing. His only daughter, who was very beautiful, ran toward him and embraced him. She was very happy to see her old father again and asked him what in the world had kept him so long. He told her he had lost his way and would not have made it back at all had it not been for a strange creature, half human, half hedgehog, who had helped him find his way out of the forest. The creature had been sitting astride a rooster up in a tall tree and had been playing beautiful music. In return for his aid the king had promised to give him the first thing that met him at the castle courtyard. Now he was very sorry that it had happened to be her. However, out of love for her old father, the princess promised him that she would go with Hans My Hedgehog whenever he came.

In the meantime, Hans My Hedgehog kept tending his pigs, and the pigs had more pigs, and eventually there were so many that the entire forest was full of them. Then Hans My Hedgehog sent word to his father to clear out all the pigsties in the village, for he was coming with such a huge herd of pigs that anyone who wanted to slaughter one could have his pick. On hearing this, his father was distressed, for he had believed that Hans My Hedgehog had long been dead. Nevertheless, Hans My Hedgehog mounted his rooster, drove his pigs ahead of him into the village, and ordered the slaughtering to begin. Whew! There was such chopping and butchering that the noise could be heard for miles around. Afterward Hans My Hedgehog said, “Father, have the blacksmith shoe my rooster one more time. Then I’ll ride away and never return as long as I live.”

So his father had the rooster shod and was glad that Hans My Hedgehog didn’t want to return again. Now, when Hans My Hedgehog departed, he set out for the country of the first king whom he had helped, but the king had given his men orders to stop anyone who was riding on a rooster and playing bagpipes from entering the castle. If necessary, they were to use their guns, spears, or swords to stop him. So when Hans My Hedgehog came riding, they attacked him with their bayonets, but he put spurs to his rooster, and the bird rose in the air, flew over the gate, and landed on the ledge of the king’s window. He called to the king to keep his promise and give him the princess; otherwise, he would take his life and his daughter’s as well. Then the king implored his daughter with the best words he could use to go with Hans My Hedgehog to save their lives. So she dressed herself all in white, and her father gave her a coach with six horses, splendid servants, money, and property. She got into the coach and was followed by Hans My Hedgehog, with his bagpipes and his rooster by his side. They then said good-bye and drove away, and the king thought that was the last be would ever see of his daughter, but things happened much differently from how he thought they would. When they had gone a little way from the city, Hans My Hedgehog took off the princess’s beautiful clothes and stuck her with his quills until she was covered with blood.

“This is what you get for being so deceitful!” he said. “Go away. I don’t want you.”

Then he chased her home, and she lived in disgrace for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Hans My Hedgehog took his bagpipes, got on his rooster, and continued his journey toward the second kingdom, which belonged to the other king whom he had led out of the forest. However, this king had ordered his men to present arms, to allow Hans My Hedgehog to enter, and to greet him by shouting “Long may he live!” After that they were to escort him into the royal palace. When the king’s daughter saw him, she was frightened because he looked so strange. However, she thought there was nothing she could do, for she had promised her father to go with him. Therefore, she welcomed Hans My Hedgehog and had to go with him to the royal table, where she sat next to him. Then they ate and drank. When evening came and it was time to go to bed, she was very much afraid of his quills, but he said not to fear because he had no intention of harming her. Then he told the old king to have four men stand watch in front of the bedroom door and to make a big fire, for when he got inside and prepared to go to bed, he would slip out of his hedgehog’s skin and leave it in front of the bed. The men were then to rush in quickly, throw the skin on the fire, and stand there until it was completely extinguished.

When the clock struck eleven, he went into the room, stripped off the hedgehog’s skin, and left it on the floor in front of the bed. Right after this the men came, picked up the skin, and threw it into the fire. When the fire had consumed it, he was set free and lay in bed just like a human being, but he was pitch black, as if he had been burned. The king sent for his doctor, who rubbed him with special ointments and balms, and gradually, he became white and turned into a handsome young man. When the princess saw that, she was very happy. The next morning they got up in a joyful mood and had a fine meal. Then the wedding was held, and Hans My Hedgehog was given the kingdom by the old king.

After some years had passed, the young king took his wife and drove to visit his father, and he told the old man that he was his son. The father, however, said he had no son, though he once had one, but he had been born with quills like a hedgehog and had gone off into the world. Then Hans My Hedgehog revealed himself to his father, and the old man rejoiced and went back with him to his kingdom.


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the fifth day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö. We are also giving away 10 copies of the book via Goodreads. Enter here.

golden key

The Golden Key

During winter, when the snow was once very deep, a poor boy had to go outside and gather wood on a sled. After he had finally collected enough wood and had piled it on his sled, he decided not to go home right away because he was freezing so much. Instead, he thought he would make a fire to warm himself up a bit. So he began scraping the snow away, and as he cleared the ground, he discovered a golden key. “Where there’s a key,” he thought, “there must also be a lock.” So he dug farther into the ground and found a little iron casket. “If only the key will fit!” he thought, for there were bound to be wonderful and precious things in the casket. He searched but couldn’t find a keyhole. Finally, he found a very tiny one and tried the key, which fit perfectly. So he turned the key around once, and now we must wait until he unlocks the casket completely. That’s when we’ll see what’s lying inside.

An explanatory note from Jack Zipes’s introduction to the Tales:

In every edition of their tales, [the Brothers Grimm] began with “The Frog King,” also known as “The Frog Prince,” and ended with “The Golden Key.” The reason they did this is, in my opinion, because “The Frog King”—and there are two different versions in the first edition—is an optimistic tale about miraculous regeneration, love, and loyalty and signals to readers that the tales in the collection will bring hope to readers and listeners despite the conflicts filled with blood and gore. The final tale, “The Golden Key,” is highly significant because it leaves readers in suspense and indicates that tales are mysterious treasures. We just need the right key to discover and appreciate them. In this respect, however, the tales that are to be rediscovered and will become known are never the end of our quest to understand the mysteries of life, only the beginning. And so it is with the unknown original tales of the Brothers Grimm. They are only the beginning.


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö


Art credit: Andrea Dezsö

“On the fourth day…” The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas

We are delighted to share these stories from The Complete First Edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with our readers. This series will run for 12 days and each story is accompanied by original art from Andrea Dezsö.



A queen put her child out to sea in a golden cradle and let it float away. However, the cradle didn’t sink but drifted to an island inhabited only by cannibals. When the cradle drifted toward the shore, a cannibal’s wife happened to be standing there. Upon seeing the child, who was a beautiful baby girl, she decided to raise her and later give her to her son, who would wed her one day. But she had a great deal of trouble hiding the maiden carefully from her husband, Old Okerlo, for if he had laid his eyes on her, he would have eaten her up, skin and bones.

When the maiden had grown up, she was to be married to the young Okerlo, but she couldn’t stand him and cried all day long. Once when she was sitting on the shore, a young, handsome prince came swimming up to her. When it was clear they each took a liking to the other, they exchanged vows. Just then the old cannibal’s wife came, and she got tremendously angry at finding the prince with her son’s bride. So she grabbed hold of him and said, “Just wait! We’ll roast you at my son’s wedding.”

The young prince, the maiden, and Okerlo’s three children had to sleep together in one room. When night came, Old Okerlo began craving human flesh and said, “Wife, I don’t feel like waiting until the wedding. I want the prince right now!”

However, the maiden had heard everything through the wall, and she got up quickly, took off the golden crown from one of Okerlo’s children,

and put it on the prince’s head. When the old cannibal’s wife came in, it was dark. So she had to feel their heads and took the boy who wasn’t wearing a crown and brought him to her husband, who immediately devoured him.

Meanwhile, the maiden became terribly frightened, for she thought, “As soon as day breaks, everything will be revealed, and we’ll be in for trouble.” So, she got up quietly and fetched seven-mile boots, a magic wand, and a cake with a bean that provided answers for everything. After that she departed with the prince. They were wearing the seven-mile boots, and with each step they took, they went a mile. Sometimes they asked the bean, “Bean, are you there?”

“Yes,” the bean said. “I’m here, but you’d better hurry. The old cannibal’s wife is coming after you in some other seven-mile boots that were left behind!”

The maiden took the magic wand and turned herself into a swan and the prince into a pond for the swan to swim on. The cannibal’s wife came and tried to lure the swan to the bank, but she didn’t succeed and went home in a bad mood. The maiden and the prince continued on their way.

“Bean, are you there?”

“Yes,” the bean said. “I’m here, but the old woman’s coming again. The cannibal explained to her how you duped her.”

The princess took the wand and changed herself and the prince into a cloud of dust. Okerlo’s wife couldn’t penetrate it and again had to return empty-handed, while the maiden and the prince continued on their way.

“Bean, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here, but I see Okerlo’s wife coming once more, and she’s taking tremendous steps!”

The maiden took the magic wand for the third time and turned herself into a rosebush and the prince into a bee. The old cannibal’s wife came and didn’t recognize them because of their changed forms. So she went home.

But now the maiden and the prince couldn’t regain their human forms because the maiden, in her fear, had thrown the magic wand too far away. Yet their journey had taken them such a long distance that the rosebush now stood in a garden that belonged to the maiden’s mother. The bee sat on the rose, and he would sting anyone who tried to pluck it. One day the queen herself happened to be walking in the garden and saw the beautiful flower. She was so amazed by it that she wanted to pluck it. But the little bee came and stung her hand so hard that she had to let go of the rose. Yet she had managed to rip the flower a little, and suddenly she saw blood gushing from the stem. Then she summoned a fairy to break the enchant- ment of the flower and the bee, and the queen then recognized her daugh- ter again and was very happy and delighted. Now a great wedding was held, and a large number of guests were invited. They came in magnificent array, while thousands of candles flickered in the hall. Music was played, and everyone danced until dawn.

“Were you also at the wedding ?”

“Of course I was there. My hairdo was made of butter, and as I was exposed to the sun, it melted and was muddled. My dress was made from a spider’s web, and as I went through some thorn bushes, they ripped it off my body. My slippers were made of glass, and as I stepped on a stone, they broke in two.”


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm:
The Complete First Edition
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, Translated and edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö

Art credit: Andrea Dezsö