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Literature: Tattercoats
Tattercoats is an English Fairy Tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in More English Fairy Tales.

A lord has only a granddaughter alive, whom he hates because her mother died in childbirth. He vows that he will never look on her, and she grows up neglected and abused by the servants, except for her old nursemaid and a gooseherd who is her friend. One day, news comes of a ball to be held for the king's son to meet young women, and the nobleman refuses to take Tattercoats. Her friend the gooseherd persuades her to go to the town with him, so they could see all the grand people. On the way, they meet a finely dressed young man, who is lost; he goes with them, and after a time, asks her to marry him. She refuses and tells him to go to the ball; he tells her to come to the ball, and he will show he means it.

She appears at midnight, with the gooseherd and his geese, in her tatters. The young man comes to her at once and tells the king, "Father, this is the woman I wish to marry."

The gooseherd plays his pipe, transforming all her clothing into finery. The prince and Tattercoats marry, but her grandfather, because he had pledge to never look on her face, had to go back to his castle alone.

A variant of the persecuted heroine, like Cinderella, though usually subclassified with tales such as Catskin, Cap o' Rushes, and "Donkeyskin" where a man persecutes her instead of a woman. See also The One-Handed Girl for a different tale type with a male persecutor. Not related to the tale Tatterhood.

Full text here.

Tropes included


Tamlane 19 th Century LiteratureJane Eyre
Tam LinFairy TaleTatterhood

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