A few people have recently asked me what fairy tales I would consider to qualify as part of the ‘fairy tale canon’.
A canon is a recognised group of related works. To my mind, the fairy tales listed below would cover all those I would include in a description of the European fairy tale canon. I’ve listed them in order, from those that I would expect almost everyone in the Western world to know about to those that are less well-known but still known by many (perhaps part of an ‘outer canon’). Tales in the canon should be familiar enough that most people could tell you their basic plot.
Animal tales, like “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Billy Goat’s Gruff”, are probably better defined as folk tales than fairy tales, while “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Gingerbread Man” might be better defined as fables, but I’ve included them here nevertheless.
Can you think of any tales I’ve missed? Are there any you would argue for or against in this selection? Are there any you haven't heard of? In this list of what I'm suggesting is a general movement from best-known to less well-known, where is the cut-off point for you? Would you order them differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
A Fairy Tale Canon
Red Riding Hood
The Three Little Pigs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Hansel and Gretel
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Beauty and the Beast
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Princess and the Pea
The Gingerbread Man
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Three Billy Goats’ Gruff
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Frog Prince
The Little Mermaid
Puss in Boots
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
The Six Swans/The Wild Swans
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
The Goose Girl
The Valiant Tailor
The Golden Goose
Snow White and Rose Red
The Selkie Wife
Diamonds and Toads
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