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Literature / The Princess and the Pea

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"The Princess and the Pea" (Danish: "Prindsessen paa ærten"; "Prinsessen på ærten" in modern orthography) is a Fairy Tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about a young woman whose claim to being a real princess is tested by placing a pea under her mattresses. The tale likely had its source in folk material although the original source of the story is a bit obscure. The story was first published in 1835. It has been adapted to various media including musical comedy and television drama.


A prince at the age of marriage travels about the world searching for a real princess but returns home disappointed. One evening, a young woman claiming to be a princess seeks shelter from a storm in the prince's castle. The prince's mother decides to test her claim by placing one (or three) peas on her bedstead, underneath twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. The following morning their young guest tells her hosts she simply could not sleep because there was a terrible lump in her bed. The prince rejoices, for only a real princess would be so sensitive. They marry and live happily ever after.

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