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Literature / Catskin

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Catskin is an English Fairy Tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in More English Fairy Tales.

A lord has only one child, a daughter, when he wants a son to inherit his estate. When she's old enough to marry, he orders her married off. She hates the bridegroom, and demands first three fancy dresses, and then a coat of catskin. With it, she runs off, bringing the dresses with her.

She gets a job as a Scullery Maid, and sneaks off to the ball, where she wins the heart of the young lord. The third ball, he manages to track her down and marry her.

Later the cook jeers at her having been so poor. She tells her husband about her father, and her husband tracks him down to find him all alone and wishing he could see his daughter once more, so he brings him home, and he lives with him.

A variant on the persecuted heroine, like Cinderella, though because she is persecuted by a man, classified with those tales, such as "Tattercoats", "Cap o' Rushes", and "Donkeyskin". See also The One-Handed Girl for a different tale type with a male persecutor.


Full text here.

Tropes included

  • Angry Chef: The cook is abusive to Catskin as a Scullery Maid, and even after she marries the young lord.
    "What! you dirty impudent slut," said the cook, "you go among all the fine lords and ladies with your filthy catskin? A fine figure you'd cut!" and with that she took a basin of water and dashed it into Catskin's face.
  • Child Marriage Veto: Catskin attempts to evade her marriage proposal with demands, and then runs off.
  • Dances and Balls: Catskin, having escaped an Arranged Marriage, works in a menial position at the castle, but she dresses up for the ball and wins the prince's heart.
  • Noble Fugitive: Catskin — noble's daughter to scullery maid
  • Person with the Clothing: The servants call her Catskin because she does not give them her name.
  • Rags to Royalty: Catskin rises again — and proves at the end that she had sunk and risen.
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  • Runaway Fiancée: How she finally escapes.
  • Scullery Maid: The job
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In her nice gowns