Old Time Stories, illustrated by William Heath Robinson

Old Time Stories - A Collection of Classic Fairy Tales


This book brings many memories to older generation and still offers a great opportunity to present a few pieces of not so old history to younger generations. It is a collection of eleven fairy tales. Some of them are classic works, representatives of the genre, well-know all over the world, others are forgotten, but still worth you attention. Aall this years after their first publishing they still poses a very specific charm. You ar einvited to be a part of it.


First eight fairy tales are written by Charles Perrault. You'll probably know most of them. You probably need to live on other planet if you don't want to hear about The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or Puss in Boots. Perrault wrote only eleven fairy tales in his lifetime yet majority still circulates around. They are actually amog the most popular stories in the world.


While the cover and inside title don't give credit to other two authors, it's only fair to expose them too. The first one is Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, who wrote the most known (not the first) version of The Beauty and The Beast, another all time classic.


The second author (third altogether) is Catherine d'Aulnoy, who is represented with two less known fairy tales, but is officially credited as a mother of the genre. She coined the fraise conte de fee, what means fairy tale.


We'll explore all eleven fairy tales with a help of superb illustrations signed by William Heath Robinson (1872-1944). We have already seen a few examples - pen and ink vignettes (black and white pictures are in majority) and one of a few color pictures (this one, a so-called frontispiece, represnets a scene from the story Little Tom Thumb.


After the list of fairy tales and the list of illustrations the book begins with a short reface. Then fairy tales follow one by one. We'll present them in exactly the same order.


The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

Perrault's version of this fairy tale begins similarly to mre known variation popularized by Grimm brothers. The king and the queen can't have children. When they succeed, they throw a huge party. Unfortunately, they forgot to invite one of the fairies who curses the baby. She will die of the spindle. This curse is later softend to the long sleep, but can't be annulled.


The king tries to forbid the spindles in the whole kingdom.


When an inevitable happens, a dwarf inform the good fairy who comes to the castle with a sleeping beauty and put everybody else to sleep too. Thick forest protects everybody inside from the inside world.


One hundred years later a prince comes and, hearing about the rumors about the sleeping beauty decides to go through the forest. The trees retract from him and he enters without a problem.


The guards were sleeping.


Everybody was sleeping.


The prince finally found the sleeping princess. When he approached to her, she wokes up. Everybody else wokes up too.

But this is not he end of the story as Perrault wrote it.

The happy couple marries and have two kids, but the prince doesn't want to introduce his wife to his parents. His mother is an ogress who likes to eat people. But after a while she founds his secret and tries to eat his wife and kids. At the end the son confronts his mother. She dies and he lives with his new family hapilly ever after.

Puss in Boots

This story starts with a death of the miller who had a mill, a donkey and a cat. Each one of his three sons got one of these. Yu can imagine the youngest, who got a cat, wasn't very happy.


Yet this was not an ordinary cat.


He built a false identity for his master by flattery, cheating, lying and threatening.


When the identity of so-called Marquiz de Carabas ned a hard evidence in form of real estate, the cat even challenged an ogre and managed to steal his posesions.


It was obvious this cat was worth much more than a mill.


So the millers son became a king and the cat his most valuable member of the court.


This fun and still very popular story raises some questions. Isn't the moral of Puss in Boots at least a bit questionable? In-debth article about this fairy tale deals exactly with this kind of questions:


Little Tom Thumb

This fairy tale is less well-known outside of France. It's actually a French version of Hansel and Gretel with elements of Jack and the Beanstalk. Little Tom Thumb is the youngest of seven boys, all children of poor woodcutter who decides to leave them in the woods because they gonna die of hunger anyway.

Thanks to Tom and white pebbles they safely return home but the second trip didn't pan out so well. Tom got bread crumbs instead of pebbles and boys couldn't find their way home anymore.

After long wondering through the forest they came to the house where a man-eating ogre lived. He wasn't at home, his daughter were already sleeping (with little crowns on their heads), but his wife was there and opened the door just to warn them not to come in.


They persuded her to take them in because they would die in the forest just before the ogre returned. He found them and decided to fatten them a bit before eating them.


 Little tom Thumb noticed they were all put into the same bed and this bed was in the same room as the bed of seven ogre's daughters. So he waited to the dark and change the caps of the boys with the crowns of the girls what proved a life-saving trick for him and his brothers.

The ogre, who was pretty tipsy, came to the bedroom in the night, and without proper orientation decided to slaughter the kids without crowns - his own daughters.

Tom woke up the boys and they ran out of the house while the ogre and his wife slept. In the morning ogre noticed his mistake and started a pursuit with seven-league boots.


When he almost caught the boys, they hid under the rock and the ogre sat on the same rock to catch some breath. He fell asleep, so boys got a chance to escape to their home, but Tom had another idea.

He stole ogre's boots, returned to his house, persuaded his wife to give him all the tresures from the house (he told her the ogre was kidnapped by robbers) and made himself and his family very rich.


Tom later used seven-league boots many times. They earned him good money and a lot of favor among nobility.

The Fairies

This fairy tale is in English speaking world more known under Diamonds and toads title. It tells a story about two girls, sisters with different characters.


The nice sister is awarded for her kindness, the rude one is punished. Gues which one got a prince for husband!

Ricky of the Tuft

In my opinion this story is the most boring and predictable of all in this collection.


There was a queen who got a son who was extremely ugly, but very smart. He also had a gift to make other people smarter if he wanted. And there was another queen who had two daughter. The older was the prettiest and dummest girl in the kingdom. Her younger sister, on the other hand, was very ugly but clever and sensitive.

Both sisters attracted men. When the beauty of the first one can't prevail her stupidity anymore, everybody turned to her sister, who was a brilliant speaker.


After a while, Ricky fell in love in the picture of the beautiful sister and when he met her, he promised her to make her smarter if she promises to marry him. There was a catch. When she really became smarter, he forgot about her decision from the time of stupidity. She wanted to marry a handsome princess instead of Ricky.


Then Ricky told her he would become handsome too, if she only use her special power to make somebody beautiful if she loves him, she did exactly that. So two beautiful and smart people marry each other. The only unhappy person in this story was the ugly sister.


By far the most popular fairy tale in the world is best known in Perrault's version - with a fairy godmother, carriage made of pumpkin and glass slippers.


Cinderella's mother dies, her father remarries, so she got a step-mother and two step-sisters. Very soon Cinderella felt to the level of the lowest servant.


She was forced to sleep in the kitchen. After a while a prince decided to find a wife. so he trwos a great party and invites all the girls. Cinderella's sisters are going too. But Cinderella is not allowed. She doesn't have a proper dress anyway.

Then her fairy godmother appears and does all the best tricks.


Cinderella did everything to hide her identity.


Somehow she lost a slipper. The prince decided to find a lady who's foot will fit this slipper. She will be his wife.


He finds the next queen in Cinderella. Perrault's version is different from Grimm's in many ways. If we focus only on the ending, we find out cinderella is very forgiving. She even arranges to find two noble men for her step-sisters.

Little Red Riding Hood

The grandmother is sick and Red Riding Hood neds to bring her some food and wine.


She was told not to talk to strangers.


When she met the wolf, she forgot about the warnings.


While she was picking flowers, the wolf ran to her granny's house and ate her. Then he got in her bed, waiting for some fresh flesh.


After the most famous dialogue in fairy tale literature the wolf eats the girl.

There is no hunter or other rescuer in Perrault's Red Riding Hood!

Blue Beard

A very rich man with bad reputation marries a young beautiful girl.


He is very mysterious.


One day he has to leave the castle. He give his wife the keys.


Among these keys there is one she must not use.


Believing he will never find out, she takes the key and opens the forbidden room.


Blue beard returns home, discovers he lack of loyalty and decides to kill her. But her brothers came to the castle soon enough to kill him and save her.

Beauty and the Beast

There was a rich merchant with three daughters. He lost almost all his money, so they had to move out of the city. They started living a very frugal life. The youngest daughter adapted.


Her elder sisters didn't.


Then a merchang got a good news. One of his ship was found and he went on another trip, promising to bring his daughters luxurious gifts. But the youngest didn't ant anything. Finally she said she would like to have a rose, because in the environment she is missing the roses most of all.


Merchant's trip was successful. On the way back a storm caught him. And he still didn't have a rose. He spent the night in a strange empty castle, where she found a rose in the garden.


Then a monster attacked him. The merchant could save his life only if one of his daughter si willing to live with the Beast in his castle.


The youngest daughter moved to the Beast's castle. At first she was afraid but slowly got affected by his kindness. They decided to marry. He changed his look into a handsome prince by nights and after a while she visited her old home to comfort her father. Her sisters were jealous for her happiness so they tried to destroy the bond between the Belle and the Beast.


They didn't. Their wickedness was punished. They became statues made of stone and the Beast was changed into a handsome prince for the rest of his life.

Friendly Frog

The king and the queen were very much in love with each other. Then he got involved in a war and had to leave her. She was already pregnant but none of them didn't know that. Soon she was lost in the forest and found herself in a strange land where everything was controled by a witch.


By coincidence she saved a life of a frog.


This frog was a fairy frog. It had magic powers. Limited, yet still with ability to help the queen.


And the princess, when she was born.


After a long and dangerous trip the magic frog found the king who still loved his lost queen and infomed him about the kid. The happy end follows.

Princess Rosette

The kind and the queen got two sons and a baby sister Rosette. At her birth the fairies told the queeen she might cause the death of her brothers, so Rosette's parents decided to lock her in a tower.

Years have passed, brothers still loved their baby sister and the king and the queen died. When the brothers became the ruler of the country immediately decided to free their sister.


Rosette was delighted with a view, especially when she saw a peacock. She declared she will marry a peacock king and nobody else.

Not knowing if such person even exists the brothers decided to find him and left Rosette in the castle. They really found the peacock king, showed him Rosette's portrait and he was immediately in love with her.

But they had to promise she is really as beautiful as her picture. Otherwise they shall die. They accepted the challenge and sent a letter to Rosette. She had to travel to the land of the peacock king.


Among her companions was a nurse who had her own plans. She arranged Rosette and her dog were thrown in the ocean while sleeping and dressed her own daughter in Rosetttte's gowns.


The imposter was still ugly and peacock king was very dissatisfied with his bride-to-be. f:id:yesterdaysdream:20190207025312j:plain

Fortunately, before his men killed the Rosette's brothers, the sea brought her to the beach.


An old man helped her to get to the castle in time.


The peacock king was delighted when he found out how beautiful is rosette in reality.

They all lived happily ever after.


The book Old Time Stories with the pictures by William Hearth Robinson is finished. Have a great time.