The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea

Infobox Book |
name = The Princess and the Pea
title_orig = Prinsessen på ærten
translator = Charles Boner

image_caption = Vilhelm Pedersen illustration
author = Hans Christian Andersen
country = Denmark
language = Danish
series =
genre = Fairy tale
published_in = Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Første Samling. Første Hefte. 1835.
publication_type =
publisher = C. A. Reitzel
media_type = Print
pub_date = 1835
english_pub_date = 1846
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Princess and the Pea" ( _da. "Prinsessen paa Ærten"; _da. "Prinsessen på ærten" in modern orthography) is a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about a young woman whose claim to being a real princess is tested by placing a pea under her mattresses. The tale likely had its source in folk material, and, in the Aarne and Thompson classification of folktales, "The Princess and the Pea" is categorized under its own type as type 703, "The Princess on the Pea". ii The story was first published in 1835. It has been adapted to various media including musical comedy and television drama.

Plot summary

A prince wants to marry a real princess. He travels about the world searching for a real princess but returns home disappointed. One evening, a young woman claiming to be a real princess seeks shelter from a storm in the prince's castle. The prince's mother decides to test the validity of her claim by placing a single pea on a bedstead and piling twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds atop it. There, the young woman spends the night. In the morning, she tells her hosts she endured a sleepless night, being kept awake by something hard in the bed. The prince rejoices. Only a real princess possesses the delicacy to feel a pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. The two are married, and live happily ever after.


Andersen claimed to have heard the tale as a child, but no Danish oral variant of the tale has been recorded. Similar tales are known in Sweden. [Maria Tatar, p 284, "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales", ISBN 0-393-05163-3] Opie, Iona and Peter. "The Classic Fairy Tales." Oxford University Press, 1975. ISBN 0192115596.] In some versions, the princess discovers the test with the aid of helper, and passes it with the foreknowledge. Andersen, however, had his princess remain innocent of the secret and suffer an uncomfortable sleeplessness. [ [ SurLaLune: History of "The Princess and the Pea"] ]


The tale was first published in Copenhagen by C.A. Reitzel 8 May 1835 in "Fairy Tales told for Children. First Collection. First Booklet. 1835." ("Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Første Samling. Første Hefte. 1835."). The publication was Andersen's first volume of fairy tales. "The Princess and the Pea" was the third tale in the booklet which included: (in contents order) "The Tinder Box" ("Fyrtoiet"), "Little Claus and Big Claus" ("Lille Claus og store Claus"), and "Little Ida's Flowers" ("Den lille Idas Blomster"). The tale was republished 18 December 1849 as a part of "Fairy Tales. 1850." ("Eventyr. 1850.") and again, 15 December 1862 as a part of "Fairy Tales and Stories. First Volume. 1862." ("Eventyr og Historier. Første Bind. 1862."). [ [ Hans Christian Andersen Center: Hans Christian Andersen: The Princess on the Pea] Retrieved 1 February 2008]


The tale was first translated into English by Charles Boner (who increased Andersen's lone pea to a trio of peas) and was first published in "A Danish Story-Book", 1846. The title is sometimes translated into English as "The Real Princess", "How to tell a True Princess", or "The Princess on the Pea". [Tatar, Maria. "The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen". W.W. Norton, 2008. ISBN 9780393060812.]


* Andrew Lang included a version, "How to tell a True Princess", in "The Yellow Fairy Book".
* "Once Upon a Mattress" is a musical comedy based on the story, that opened on Broadway in 1959 and was adapted as telemovies in 1972 and 2005.
* The animated short, "Princess and the Pea" aired as a Fractured Fairy Tale segment during the first season (1959-60) of the animated television series, "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show".
* A Soviet movie adaptation, entitled "Printsessa na goroshine" ("The Princess and the Pea") and directed by Boris Rytsarev, was released in 1976. [imdb title|id=0075104|title=Printsessa na goroshine]
* A parody of the tale, "The Princess and the Bowling Ball", can be found in "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales".
* The American children's television program "Sesame Street" has twice told the story as parody.
* Gail Carson Levine rewrote the tale as "The Princess Test".
* "Faerie Tale Theatre" produced a version starring Liza Minnelli (1982).
* HBO's "Happy Ever After" set the tale in Korea.
* Debra Tracy rewrote the tale as "The Clever Princess Who Slept on a Pea" in "Newfangled Fairy Tales".
* An animated feature film was made in 2002 in a co-production between the US and the Hungarian studio PannóniaFilm. []
* The computer game "" features a princess who can only be woken by putting a pea under her mattresses.
* A children's board game called Princess and the Pea Game was produced by Winning Moves Games based on the story.

ee also

*List of works by Hans Christian Andersen
*Vilhelm Pedersen, first illustrator of Andersen's fairy tales


External links

* [ The Princess and the Pea] Jean Hersholt's English translation
* [ "Prinsessen på ærten"] Original Danish text
* [ Surlalune: Annotated The Princess and the Pea]
* [ "The Real Princess" version from "Andersen's Fairy Tales" (English, full text)]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Princess and the Pea — name of a children s fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Princess and the Pea — Princess and the Pea, The a ↑fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen in which a young woman proves that she is a princess by noticing that there is a ↑pea (=a small round green vegetable) under the pile of ↑mattresses she has been sleeping on. A… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • The Princess and the Pea (Faerie Tale Theatre episode) — Infobox Television episode Title=The Princess and the Pea Series=Faerie Tale Theatre Season=3 Episode=2 Airdate=April 16 1984 Writer=Rod Ash Mark Curtis Director=Tony Bill Prev=Goldilocks and the Three Bears Next= Pinocchio The Princess and the… …   Wikipedia

  • Princess and the Pea (board game) — Infobox Game title = The Princess and the Pea image link = image caption = Box cover and game layout designer = illustrator = publisher = Winning Moves players = 2 to 4 ages = 5 and up setup time = 5 minutes playing time = 20 30 minutes random… …   Wikipedia

  • Pea soup — is soup made, typically, from dried peas. It is, with variations, a part of the cuisine of many cultures. It is greyish green or yellow in color depending on the regional variety of peas used; all are cultivars of Pisum sativum.Pea soup has been… …   Wikipedia

  • The Courageous Princess — is a comic book written and drawn by Rod Espinosa, published by Antarctic Press. The story consists of fairytale lands, princes, and princesses. There are other statuses of royalty in this story. Some of Rod Espinosa s other stories are Neotopia …   Wikipedia

  • The Little Match Girl — Author Hans Christian Andersen Original title Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne Country Denmark Language Danish …   Wikipedia

  • The Triplets — ( ca. Les Tres Bessones) are three fictional characters (Anna, Teresa and Elena) created by Catalan children s literature illustrator Roser Capdevila.The Triplets were created in 1983, based on Capdevila s own daughters, three actual triplets… …   Wikipedia

  • The Talking Mother Goose — was an animated character toy created by Alchemy II and Worlds of Wonder, in 1986. An interesting notion about this incarnation is that Mother Goose is a goose, not a human as usually portrayed. How Mother Goose Worked Like most Worlds of Wonder… …   Wikipedia

  • The Tale of Despereaux — See also: Despréaux (disambiguation) This article is about the book. For the 2008 film, see The Tale of Despereaux (film). The Tale of Despereaux   …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”