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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:

  • European Folk and Fairy Tales or Europa's Fairy Book, containing many of the most familiar tales in slightly different forms than most people have heard of them. According to Jacobs's notes, he attempted to merge all available variants of a certain tale to recreate their Ur-Texts.

Tropes featured in Joseph Jacobs' fairy tale collections:

  • Become a Real Boy:
    • In "The Greek Princess And The Young Gardener" (link), a fox demands that the hero cut off his head at the end; this is needed to transform him back to a man, as he is the enchanted brother of the Greek Princess.
    • The hero of "The Black Bull Of Norroway" (link) wishes to marry the heroine because if she lives with him for a time, he will be freed of his curse. Unfortunately, she invariably violates a prohibition, which puts him in the power of the person who transformed him, and she must find him again to free him.
  • Dances and Balls: Some major examples:
    • In Kate Crackernuts, the prince is magically entralled by the fairies to dance at their phantasmal ball.
    • In Tattercoats, as soon as the titular heroine appears at the ball, the story's prince declares she will be his bride.
  • Death by Childbirth: In Tattercoats, Tattercoat's mother dies while giving birth to the titular heroine.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • In "The Fish and the Ring", the Baron attempts to murder the poor girl several times, even though she fullfills every task he demands from her, only because his child is fated to marry her.
    • In "Esben and the Witch", whenever Esben succeeds in a task, his enemy at court incites the king to give him another, and the king is only too willing to listen.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job:
    • "Rushen Coatie" is a princess forced to work in the kitchens by her abusive family.
    • "The Fish And The Ring", the main character is a peasant girl who gets married to a baron's son, and then she becomes a scullion girl after she is thrown out of her father-in-law's castle.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: In "Yallery Brown", Tom Tiver releases a Yallery Brown'', trapped under a stone, and the creature puts a bad luck curse on him.
  • 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: Some of the tales he collected and published are gender-flip variations of well-known tale types:
    • "Molly Whuppie" is classified as type ATU 327B, "The Small Boy Defeats the Ogre" or "The Brothers and the Ogre", a type where the protagonist is usually a male hero.
    • "The Fish and the Ring" features a poor girl destined to marry a rich noble's son, a gender inverted variation on the usual story where the male protagonist is prophecised to marry a nobleman's daughter.
    • "Kate Crackernuts" features a flip of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses": instead of a male protagonist chasing after a group of princesses into their secret underground ball, here we have a heroine following a prince to the faeries' secret dance.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • In "Kate Crackernuts", the wicked queen sees that her stepdaughter Anne is lovelier than her own child, Kate, and has Anne changed into a monster. Kate herself is horrified and runs away with Anne to find a way to break the spell.
    • The stepmother queen changes Princess Margaret into the titular Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh to destroy her beauty.
  • 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.
  • Liminal Time: In "Fair Brown And Trembling" (link), the heroine is particularly vulnerable to an abduction and substitution when she gives birth and finds herself at the state between childlessness and maternity.
  • 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.
  • 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: Many a princess has to flee her Wicked Stepmother or her father who wants to marry her and go into service as a Scullery Maid. These include "Rushen Coatie", "Catskin" and "Cap O'Rushes".
  • Person with the Clothing: Some of his tales are titled after a particular garment the characters wear:
    • "Tattercoats" is named so after the rags her grandfather forces her to wear.
    • "Rushen Coatie": the heroine flees from home and dons a makeshift dress made of bulrushes.
  • Rags to Royalty: A staple of traditional fairy tales: humble heroes rise from their lowly station by marrying princesses; fallen princesses regain their position by wedding princes.
  • Scullery Maid: Catskin is a princess who is forced to flee home and finds a menial job as a kitchen maid in another kingdom.
  • Wicked Stepmother: As usual for traditional fairy tales. Jacobs's tales contain a particularly nasty one: in "The Rose Tree", she kills her step-daughter and prepares a meal with her flesh.