A 1905 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of ''Literature/LittleLordFauntleroy'' and ''Literature/TheSecretGarden''. Also known as ''Sara Crewe'' and ''The Little Princess''.

Sara Crewe, the daughter of a British Army officer, is [[SpoiledSweet refreshingly kind, generous and clever]], despite her father's wealth buying her every luxury she could desire. She retains this attitude even when she is packed off to a boarding school for formal education. However, a couple of years later, word comes that a bad investment has bankrupted her father, who subsequently died of BrainFever brought on by the shock.

Unable to pay for her education and having no known relatives, Sara has no choice but to accept a position as a servant at the boarding house. Despite these hardships, she continues to be kind and gracious, keeping her spirits up by believing that there is still magic in the world and things will get better.

It becomes more and more difficult for her to keep that attitude glued on as time passes, especially when she is denied food as a punishment. Sara is about to give into despair when warm clothes, bedding and food begin to appear out of nowhere in her attic room. Her father's associate, Mr. Thomas Carrisford, has been searching for her since Crewe's death. He'd sent the gifts not knowing Sarah was "his" girl, just wanting to help someone in need. He gives her back her half of the "bad investment," which in the end turned out to be worth many times more than he and her father had anticipated, and takes her as his ward. Her fortune restored, Sara returns to her former social station, but she does not forget those who were kind to her when she was in need.

Inspired a few [[TheFilmOfTheBook movie adaptations]], most notably one starring Creator/ShirleyTemple in 1939 (titled ''The Little Princess'') and one directed by Creator/AlfonsoCuaron in 1995. The latter cast Creator/LieselMatthews in the role. It has also had many stage adaptations as well as various television shows, including a critically acclaimed ''Anime/WorldMasterpieceTheater'' ''Anime/PrincessSarah'' anime series in TheEighties and the more recent (and ''far'' more loosely-based) anime ''Anime/StrainStrategicArmoredInfantry'', which adds {{fanservice}} and [[LikeThatShowButWithMecha mecha]] along with giving the heroine an alternative [[ShellShockedVeteran reaction to trauma]]. [[RecycledInSpace In SPACE]]. See also the 2009 Japanese live-action drama ''Series/ShokojoSeira'', which move the action to Japan and age-up the characters. There's even a ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' adaptation (2012's ''The Penniless Princess''), and indie developer HanakoGames is currently producing a visual novel adaptation, to be released in 2016.

Not in any way a DistaffCounterpart to ''Literature/TheLittlePrince'', though there's a paper to be written on that topic. Please do not confuse with Alice Soft's ''VideoGame/LittlePrincess'', or Tony Ross' Literature/LittlePrincess children books.


* AdaptationExpansion: The novel originally began life as a novella called "Sara Crewe", that was serialized in ''St. Nicholas Magazine'' in 1888. But Burnett felt that the story was incomplete, so it was first expanded into a play, "A Little Un-fairy Princess", and finally into this version.
* AdultFear: Your death leaves your child penniless and alone in the world.
* AlphaBitch: Lavinia.
* AmoralAttorney:
** Mr. Barrow, Captain Crewe's solicitor. He's the one who comes to the school to announce his client's death, and suggests making a servant of Sara to Miss Minchin (as an alternative to throwing her out on the street, which would be ''bad publicity for the school'').
*** Well, he does also suggest that Miss Minchin might do her the "favor" of keeping her on as a student... but his primary reason for having to say that is because he has cleaned out what remained of her father's money to pay off his own bills, leaving nothing for the child but a huge amount of debt.
** Averted with Mr. Carmichael, Carrisford's solicitor. He's introduced as the head of a loving family that Sara envies, and when his profession is revealed, it's in a conversation where he offers to travel to Moscow to follow a vague lead on Sara's whereabouts.
* BookDumb: Ermengarde St. John, who has trouble with her lessons, particularly French.
* BookWorm: Sara is an avid reader, even at age seven.
* BrainFever: Captain Crewe's fate.
* BreakTheCutie: The bulk of the story. Miss Minchin, the servants, and Lavinia deliberately try to break her further after she's ruined. The novel even points out that "her child heart might have been broken" had it not been for Ermengarde, Lottie and Becky.
* CinderellaCircumstances: After Sara loses her fortune she becomes a servant in the school. In fact, she is MadeASlave -- an indentured servant whose debt will never be repaid. As she grows older, Miss Minchin actually appoints her as a ''teacher'' -- still unpaid.
* ComicBookTime: Sara goes to the seminary when she is seven and becomes poor when she is 11. On her first day Lavinia is already one of the oldest children and is specifically described as 14. By the time the main events play out she should be 18 and have left the school.
* CommonEyeColors: Sara's are gray-green.
* CompanionCube: Emily. [[spoiler:Although in one moment of despair Sara screams at Emily that she's "just a doll".]]
* ContrivedCoincidence:
** Well, it is by a Victorian novelist: [[spoiler: the old gent who moves in next door turns out to be looking for a particular young lady who is due to inherit a great deal of money. Since the 'Indian Gentleman' is not even sure which COUNTRY the little girl was sent to school in (he sends his solicitor to Paris, then to Moscow, on the basis of vaguely similar names and backgrounds), it's somewhat serendipitous that he happens to move in next door from the right girl]].
** Possibly the greatest moment of coincidence is not necessarily important to the plot: a hungry Sara comforts herself with a fantasy of finding a lost sixpence, taking it to a bakery, and eating six buns without stopping. [[LampshadeHanging "Then," says the narrator, "if you can believe it--"]] Sara glances down to see a lost fourpence, then looks up to find she is in front of a bakery, where she is sold six penny buns for fourpence. [[spoiler: The only difference is that she doesn't end up eating all six.]]
* CostumePorn: Some paragraphs in the book are spent describing Sara's beautiful clothes. Indeed, lengthy paragraphs are devoted to describing the wardrobes of Sarah's ''dolls''.
* DaddysGirl: Sara and her father were very close, and her mother died when she was quite young.
* DeniedFoodAsPunishment: And smacked around a little, too.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: It's Sara's kindness in the worst possible circumstances that attracts the attention of [[spoiler: her father's partner, lying sick in the house next door]], and leads to their discovery of each others' identities.
* EnfantTerrible: Lottie, before she meets Sara.
* ExtremeDoormat: Miss Minchin's sister is far kinder but is completely dominated by her until the end of the story when she finally speaks her mind.
* FallenPrincess: Sara. She pretends she really ''is'' a princess who's just fallen on hard times like in TheFrenchRevolution.
* FunetikAksent: Becky and other Cockney characters.
* GirlPosse: Lavinia's small band of hangers-on.
* {{Greed}}: Miss Minchin
* HappilyAdopted: In the end, when Thomas Carrisford reinstates Sara as an heiress, he effectively becomes her foster father, [[spoiler:and the epilogue reveals that the urchin Sara saved from starvation is apprenticed to the baker.]]
* HaveAGayOldTime: The word "queer" is thrown around like a stuffed animal in the book, if only in the archaic sense. The girls also "ejaculate" a few times.
** The mention that Sara and her dad "were the dearest friends and lovers in the world" really sounds off to a modern reader.
* HeroicBSOD: Sara during her most despairing moment is no longer able to pretend that Emily is anything other than a doll and knocks her on the floor. She pulls herself together though and says that Emily can no more help being a doll than Lavinia can help being horrid.
* LampshadeHanging: Done with some of the story's more dramatic coincidences, including [[spoiler:the news of Captain Crewe's ruin and death arriving immediately after Sara has a conversation about whether she'd be such a nice and happy person if she weren't so rich]] and [[spoiler:the way Carrisford finally finds Sara]].
* LonelyDollGirl: Sarah's doll Emily was bought by her father so she'd feel less lonely when he returned to India. She becomes one of Sara's few companions when Sara loses her fortune.
* MeaningfulName: Sara is Hebrew for "princess." In the book of Genesis, Sarah -- wife of Abraham -- gives birth to Isaac, and is promised that she will be a princess of many nations. Becky's name is a diminution of Rebecca, Isaac's wife (Sarah's daughter-in-law), and the mother of Jacob / Israel. Maria (Miss Minchin's first name) means "bitter". Amelia means "lovable"- and she is the nicer sister.
* NeutralNoLonger: Lavinia's empty-headed friend Jessie reprimands Lavinia for tattling on Sara and her friends for planning a midnight feast (after Sara has been deprived of food for a day) and later says Miss Minchin has no right to starve Sara.
* NiceToTheWaiter: One of Sara's defining traits. Even when she herself falls on hard times, she's still kind and generous to those even worse off.
* NonRoyalPrincess: Sara before her father dies. Look at the title.
* NumberOneDime: The sixpence Donald Carmichael gives Sara.
* ParentalAbandonment:
** Sara's mother died in childbirth, and her father when she's eleven.
** Lottie's father is said to be very "flighty" and to have left Lottie to others after his wife died.
* PrettyInMink: A few furs are mentioned, like a doll with an ermine-lined cape, and the fur coat Sara wears at the end.
* PrincessClassic: Or almost. In fact, Sara looks up to historical queens and princesses (notably MarieAntoinette in one instance) as role models, which helps her control her temper on occasions.
* PrincessInRags: As a servant, Sara wears an old black velvet frock of hers, that is already too small for her when she puts it on. The book mentions a bonnet with ostrich plumes that also belonged to her, but becomes bedraggled from [[GrayRainOfDepression repeated errands in the rain]].
* PrincessesPreferPink: A significant scene in which Sara meets Becky is marked by Sara's carefully described rose-pink dancing costume, complete with rosy pink cheeks and a wreath of pink roses in her hair. Becky hammers the point home by comparing Sara to her memory of briefly glimpsing a real princess dressed all in pink.
* PromotionToParent: Sara acts as a stand-in mother to Lottie.
* RagsToRiches; [[InvertedTrope Inverted]]: The book and adaptations are frequently promoted as a "riches to rags" story. Though of course she [[spoiler: becomes rich beyond her wildest imagination again when it turns out the diamond mines were real and her father's partner is still alive]].
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Miss Minchin's well-meaning but cowed sister Amelia finally snaps at the end of the novel and thoroughly tells her off. Miss Minchin is shocked and intimidated, and Miss Amelia takes a greater role in running the school thereafter.
--> "And now you've lost her," she cried wildly; "and some other school will get her and her money; and if she were like any other child she'd tell how she's been treated, and all our pupils would be taken away and we should be ruined. And it serves us right; but it serves you right more than it does me, for you are a hard woman, Maria Minchin, you're a hard, selfish, worldly woman!"
* RichBitch: Lavinia Herbert, who was the richest girl in school before Sara turned up, and sees the younger girl as a threat to her social standing. She's unmerciful in her ridicule when Sara loses her fortune.
* RoyalBrat: Lavinia again.
* SadistTeacher: Miss Minchin, who has a nasty cruel streak and cares about nothing more than money. Her sister calls her out on it right at the end: "You're a hard, cruel, worldly woman."
* SaidBookism: There are some instances of words being "ejaculated" in the novel.
* SpoiledSweet: Sara's a bit naive about the state of the world at first, but even before things get horribly awful she realizes that there are people less fortunate than she is and doesn't act like a RichBitch.
* TooHungryToBePolite: The street girl Sarah gives her buns to tears ravenously into them, exclaiming only, "Oh my! Oh my!" [[JustifiedTrope She is starving]], as Sarah notes.
* TrueColors: After Sara's father dies, Miss Minchin reveals her bitchy, greedy self.
* YouDirtyRat: Subverted with the rat in Sarah's attic room whom she befriends and names "Melchisedec," after an Old Testament king. She comments on how hard it must be to an animal that everyone treats with fear and disgust when it is just trying to feed itself and its family. Melchy also gets a WhatHappenedToTheMouse since it's not revealed how he fares after Sarah and her crumbs move out of the attic.

!!Adaptations with their own trope pages include:

* ''Anime/PrincessSarah''
* ''Anime/StrainStrategicArmoredInfantry'' (although that one is a very loose RecycledInSpace adaptation with elements from Burnett's other works)
* ''Series/ShokojoSeira''

!!The 1939 film provides examples of:

* AdaptedOut: Along with many minor characters, Ermengarde and Lottie are missing, despite their importance to Sara in the original.
* AsideGlance: Shirley Temple looks straight in the camera as the film ends.
* DeusExMachina: Or rather, extremely powerful convenient visitor. When Sara finds the hospital that may contain her wounded, amnesiac father, she is allowed to search it after asking a very old, important-looking woman for permission. Upon thanking her for this, Sara asks the woman's name, and then blushes and curtsies when she responds: [[UsefulNotes/QueenVictoria "Victoria."]] It's a heartwarming moment, and kind of stops anyone this side of God from keeping father and daughter apart one second longer.
* DisneyDeath: Sara's father.
* DreamSequence: Sara has an elaborate dream in which she actually is a princess, and Miss Minchin is an evil witch.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Captain Crewe requests that Sara's room at the seminary be made "as gay as possible." We're talking about an all-girls school.
* KarmaHoudini: Miss Minchin. All we see happen to her is a look of utter shock upon learning Sara's father is still alive.
* MissedHimByThatMuch: At one point Sara turns a corner and goes in one direction while her father is wheeled out of his room and sent down the hallway in the opposite direction.
* PrettyInMink: Sara wears a blue coat with an ermine collar and ermine muff.
* PublicDomainFeatureFilms: Due to Fox failing to renew the copyright, this film is in the PublicDomain.
* ShellShockedVeteran: One of the soldiers in the hospital is making paper dolls.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Sara's father is alive. He's horribly injured, but alive.
* SpoiledSweet: Sara has clearly been ridiculously spoiled but is still as sweet as Shirley Temple always was.
* TrueBlueFemininity: Sara is first seen in a blue coat (with an ermine collar) and hat.
* TitleDrop: "She's just like a little princess, isn't she?"
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Becky is last seen being captured by the police while Sara escapes.

!!The 1986 [=WonderWorks=] film provides examples of:

* BigShutUp: Ermengarde gives one to Lavinia.

!!The 1995 film provides examples of:

* AdaptedOut: The Large Family.
* AdaptationExplanationExtrication: Sara wakes up to find her attic room filled with food, clothing and other luxuries. In the book, these things were brought to her in secret over a number of weeks by Ram Dass, the Indian man living next door, while she slept. In the film, they're just there with no explanation.
* AllegoryAdventure: The film weaves in bits of the ''{{Literature/Ramayana}}'' by making it Sara Crewe's favorite book. The strong implication is that King Rama's story mirrors Captain Crewe's—the two characters are even [[AndYouWereThere played by the same actor]].
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: From Sara to Miss Minchin:
-->'''Sara:''' Didn't your father ever tell you you were a princess?
* BlackBestFriend[=/=]RaceLift: Becky. In the original, she is a typical Victorian-era Cockney girl. With the setting changed from Britain to America, rendering a Cockney girl as black is a logical enough CulturalTranslation.
* CacophonyCoverUp: [[CuteButCacophonic Lottie's]] ear-piercing scream creates a diversion under the cover of which the girls can fetch Sara's locket from Miss Minchin's office.
* CostumePorn: Even more than in the novel. You can hardly blame Miss Minchin when she says Sara can't wear her finery looking at what she's wearing in that very scene.
* DisneyDeath: Sara's father.
* DramaticNecklaceRemoval: Sara's locket.
* LaserGuidedKarma: A rather satisfying change is Miss Minchin loses her job and is now a chimney sweep, and is working for a boy who she was horrible to earlier.
* RagsToRiches: Not only Sara becomes rich again but [[spoiler:her father adopts Becky]].
* RepeatCut: At the end of the film, when Lavinia hugs Sara.
* ShooOutTheClowns: The comical Amelia runs away with the milkman ''seconds'' before the dramatic climax. Sara is actually ''watching her go'' when Miss Minchin bursts in and accuses her of stealing the locket.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Sara's father is alive. He's traumatized/amnesiac, but alive.

!! The 1996 animated film contains examples of:

* DeathByAdaptation: When Sara's father is revealed to be alive, it's explained that his business partner died and was mistaken for him.
* EasilyForgiven: Miss Minchin no longer owns the seminar but she's still allowed to teach there in spite of how she treated the new owner's daughter.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Sara's father.