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Creator / Joseph Jacobs

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"What Perrault began, the Grimms completed."

Joseph Jacobs (29 August 1854 – 30 January 1916) was a nineteenth century Australian folklorist and writer who collected English and Celtic fairy tales because — as the quote shows — he objected to the monopoly of German and French fairy tales over English children.

The best known of these tales is "Jack and the Beanstalk", his version being not the oldest known but certainly the oldest known of the most common form. He omitted the moralizing addition that Jack was told that the giant's treasures had been stolen from his own father both because it had not been in the version he had heard as a child, and because he thought children knew it was wrong without being told so in a Fairy Tale. Other tales you probably heard from are Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs.

Joseph Jacob's tales with pages of their own on this site include:


His works can be read in the SurLaLune site (using the Way Back Machine) and the Project Gutenberg.

His collections include:

Tropes featured in Joseph Jacobs' fairy tale collections:

  • At the Crossroads: "The King of England and His Three Sons"
  • Baleful Polymorph: "The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener"
  • Dances and Balls
  • Death by Childbirth: Tattercoat's mother
  • Due to the Dead: In "The Rose Tree" the stepmother fails, and her child succeeds.
  • The Fair Folk: A rare phenomena: actual fairies in a fairy tale, "Kate Crackernuts". But not nice ones.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In "Gold-Tree And Silver-Tree" the second wife disobeys her husband's command not to go into a certain room. Fortunately, for once, because she revives Gold-Tree.
  • Gender Flip:
    • "Molly Whuppie" features in the tale type known as "The Small Boy Defeats the Ogre"
    • "The Fish and the Ring" features a poor girl destined to marry a rich noble's son.
    • "Kate Crackernuts" features a flip of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses"
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In "Kate Crackernuts". Kate is not the target of it; her mother targets her stepsister Ann.
  • It Was with You All Along: In "A Pottle O' Brains", the fool brings his clever wife when he goes to answer the wise woman's riddles to get a pottle of brains. The woman then explains that he has them already: in his wife's head.
  • Love at First Sight: "The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener"
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: In "Tattercoats", the title character's grandfather blames her for killing his daughter, and swears to never look at her.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Jacobs is often thought to be British, but he was actually born in Australia and only moved to England at age 18. The last 16 years of his life he spent in the United States.
  • The Münchausen: In "Conall Yellowclaw", a lord captures four thieves: three brothers and an older man. The older man ransoms each of the brothers by telling a story of when he had been in more danger than they are, in the hands of a man about to execute them. The final story involves his helping a woman save a baby, and an old woman recognizes the tale and that the lord had been the baby, so the lord rewards the older thief for his rescue.
  • Noble Fugitive: Catskin, Rashen-Coatie
  • Old Retainer
  • Person with the Clothing: "Tattercoats", "Rushen Coatie"
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: "The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener"
  • Prince Charming: Tattercoats gets a particularly charming one: he actually falls in love with her in her rags.
  • The Quest: To rescue the moon goddess in "The Buried Moon".
  • Rags to Royalty
  • Scullery Maid: Catskin
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: "Catskin", and "Rushen Coatie". Not, however "Tattercoats"
  • Standard Hero Reward: Molly Whuppie and Kate Crackernuts (Told you they were a Gender Flip.)
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve
  • Wicked Stepmother: In "The Rose Tree"


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