Rank #1: Snow White
Illustration by Jennie Harbour for My Book of Favourite Fairy Tales, 1921
Snow White is one of the best known tales, how and why did it become so? In Episode three we look at poisoned Baronesses, Persephone and Hades, pantomime, and early cinema. Looking at the dark story of jealousy and blossoming beauty.
Music for this episode by the wonderful Musk Ox.Read Snow White and Similar tales Snow White Gallery
Snow White silent film (1916)
Feb 11 2016
Rank #2: The Sleeping Beauty
Illustration by Jennie Harbour
Sleeping Beauty is one of the darkest and most erotically charged tales and this weeks episode is not suitable for those that simply want to hear the picture book story. From origins in Icelandic and French folklore through to the forgotten second act of Perrault and Basile's versions of Sleeping Beauty you have to be brave to court the princess asleep in the woods. It's a dark and thorny path.Read The talesSleeping Beauty Gallery
Mar 10 2016
Rank #3: The Little Mermaid Part 1
Illustration by Jennie Harbour
Part one of two traces the history of The Little Mermaid, from Ancient Goddesses of love and fertility to folk stories of love and marriage, slavery and gender politics.
This episode focuses on selkies, finfolk, and Sea Kings, with an interview with Finn O'Branagáin, talking about the power of these stories. Next week we look at sirens, rusalka, and talk to some real live mermaids.
To read more about Finn O'Branagáin's play click HEREMermaid Illustrations Mermaid stories
Jul 21 2016
Rank #5: The Singing Bone
Paper cut illustration by Clare Testoni
The Singing Bone is one of the oldest folk tales and is often considered a bridging point between folk tales and ghost stories. With origins going back 2200 years to China and Africa it continues to live in folk and country songs. Telling the sad tale of brothers and sisters killing each other, and only the dead siblings enchanted bones telling the truth of their fate.Read and listen to the tales hereSinging Bones Gallery
Mar 23 2016
Rank #6: The Brothers Grimm and Sisters Wild
The statue of the brothers in Kassel
The Brother's Grimm are synonyms with fairy tales. Yet most people do not know how they collected their tales, or more importantly who they collected them from.
Born in a time of war and shifting borders and fearing a loss of national identity the brothers sought to record all fairy tales in German. Their sources were mostly young women, sisters who shared the Grimm's passion for folktales and yet they were not credited as the brothers were, Matt Damon did not play them in a movie.
This week we are looking at the lives of The Brothers Grimm and the women who they collected their stories from. For in order to understand the history of fairy tales, we must understand the tale tellers.Grimm brothers reading list
Apr 22 2016
Rank #7: Bluebeard
Illustration by Winslow Hollow
"Be bold, be bold, but not too bold."
Bluebeard is one of the most gruesome and dark stories of the fairy tale cannon. Before true crime or horror stories people told the story of the serial killer with the un-naturally blue beard, and the many wives he murdered.
Before we had the term serial killer we called repeat killers Bluebeards', and the real men from history who inspired the tale are considered some of the most vicious in history. In this episode we look at Bluebeard and it's cousin stories of Mr. Fox, and The Devil Who Married Three sisters, and examine the histories of the three men thought to have inspired the story. One a king of France, another a King of England, and Barron who was a companion to Joan of Arc.
Harp music by OMNIA
Other music from the Opera "Bluebeard's Castle" by Béla BartókRead Bluebeard and similar tales Bluebeard Gallery
May 12 2016
Rank #8: Jack and The Beanstalk
Giants are our fears and foes made large, Jack and The Beanstalk comes from a history of the small against the strong. It is what remains of a lost tradition of boys own adventure tales. In this episode we follow our fears from Goliath, to Norwegian independence, through to British colonialism and freudian psychoanalysis.
Read more about Jeffrey Jay Fowler and his upcoming work.Read the stories Gallery of Giants
Feb 24 2016
Rank #9: Twelve Dancing Princesses
Illustration by Sheilah Beckett
The Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces, are stories of fairy kidnapping and possession. In this episode we look at the stories of the fey, the she, elves, devils, peri, and all sorts of wicked spirits that wisk young maidens and lads away to their magic kingdoms where they do nothing but dance. From Iceland to India the stories of fairy kidnappings and those that rescue them talk to us about sin, sleep, and dance.
Music by Christy-Lynn
and Ed HarrisRead The Dancing Princess Stories Dancing Princess Gallery
Jun 12 2016
Rank #10: Ali Baba and 1001 Nights
Illustration by Walter Crane
To tell the history of Alibaba is to tell the story of the "Arabian Nights" stories. From a 14th Century Syrian text called 1001 Nights the European world fell in love with Middle Eastern wonder stories.
AliBaba has long captured imaginations worldwide, with its themes of family, goodness and treasure. But where did it arrive from? Is it Arabic, Greek, or possibly completely composed by a European in love with the city of Baghdad.
Music by ¡para!helion
To read a translation of 1001 Night from the original Arabic I recommend this version by Hussain HaddawyRead The Tales Image Gallery
Jul 07 2016