The Teller's Tale

Lives of the Classic Fairy Tale Writers

Edited by Sophie Raynard

Subjects: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Children's Literature, Comparative Literature, Folklore
Paperback : 9781438443546, 191 pages, July 2013
Hardcover : 9781438443553, 191 pages, October 2012

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Table of contents

Sophie Raynard
Part I. Emergence
Straparola: Sixteenth-Century Italy
Basile: Seventeenth-Century Italy
Europe’s First Fairy Tales
Ruth B. Bottigheimer
Giovan Francesco Straparola: 1485?–1556?
Ruth B. Bottigheimer
Giambattista Basile: 1575?–1632
Nancy Canepa
Part II. Elaboration
Perrault and the Conteuses Précieuses: Seventeenth-Century France
Sophistication and Modernization of the Fairy Tale: 1690–1709
Nadine Jasmin (translated and adapted by Sophie Raynard)
Charles Perrault: 1628–1703
Yvette Saupé and Jean-Pierre Collinet (translated and adapted by Sophie Raynard)
Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d’Aulnoy: 1650/51?–1705
Nadine Jasmin (translated and adapted by Sophie Raynard)
Catherine Bernard: 1663?–1712
Lewis C. Seifert
Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier de Villandon: 1664–1734
Lewis C. Seifert
Henriette-Julie de Castelnau, Countess de Murat: 1668–1716
Geneviève Patard (translated and adapted by Sophie Raynard)
Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force: 1650?–1724
Lewis C. Seifert
Part III. Exoticism
Galland: Eighteenth-Century France
Antoine Galland: 1646–1715
Manuel Couvreur (translated and adapted by Sophie Raynard)
Part IV. Didacticism
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont: Eighteenth-Century France
Jeanne-Marie Leprince (or Le Prince) de Beaumont: 1711–1780?
Elisa Biancardi (translated and adapted by Sophie Raynard)
Part V. Traditionalization
Naubert: Late Eighteenth-Century and Early Nineteenth-Century Germany
The Grimms: Nineteenth-Century Germany
Bechstein: Nineteenth-Century Germany
The Legacy of Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century German Female Storytellers
Shawn C. Jarvis
Benedikte Naubert
Shawn C. Jarvis
Jacob Grimm: 1785–1863, Wilhelm Grimm: 1786-1859
Donald R. Hettinga
Ludwig Bechstein
Ruth B. Bottigheimer
Part VI. Sentimentalization
Andersen: Nineteenth Century Denmark
Hans Christian Andersen
Peer E. Soerensen
Lister of Contributors

Intriguing, updated portraits of classic fairy tale authors.


This book offers new, often unexpected, but always intriguing portraits of the writers of classic fairy tales. For years these authors, who wrote from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, have been either little known or known through skewed, frequently sentimentalized biographical information. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were cast as exemplars of national virtues; Hans Christian Andersen's life became—with his participation—a fairy tale in itself. Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, the prim governess who wrote moral tales for girls, had a more colorful past than her readers would have imagined, and few people knew that nineteen-year-old Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy conspired to kill her much-older husband. Important figures about whom little is known, such as Giovan Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, are rendered more completely than ever before. Uncovering what was obscured for years and with newly discovered evidence, contributors to this fascinating and much-needed volume provide a historical context for Europe's fairy tales.

Sophie Raynard is Associate Professor of French at Stony Brook University, State University of New York.


"The Teller's Tale is a vital resource for those interested not only in fairy tales, but also in comparative literature, women's writing and didactic texts ... [it] will appeal to scholars at all levels and is a key text for anyone interested in the minds that brought us this compelling, even enchanting, genre." — MAKE Literary Magazine

"…intellectually stimulating … Covering primarily Italian, French, and German writers, this collection of essays is thought-provoking and informative." — Journal of American Folklore

"While an anthology with such a diverse group of writers could risk losing coherence due to competing voices and writing styles, that is not the case here, as the essays blend seamlessly. Surely Raynard's editing, translation, and adaptation skills must be praised … for now and possibly far into the future, Raynard's collection of biographies is as definitive as any reader can hope to find, a set of tales every bit as enticing as the ones these writers created." — Children's Literature Association Quarterly

"A stellar cast of international scholars, including Ruth Bottigheimer, Nancy Canepa, and Shawn Jarvis, have produced these portraits. Several of the entries were translated by the editor, who also provides a graceful introduction. A slender and very valuable contribution to fairy tales studies, this book will be useful to a broad audience … Highly recommended." — CHOICE

"…a handbook which will be of considerable use for teaching and research … this collection is welcome, not least for its international reach, which should make the fairy tale a particularly rewarding genre for students of comparative literature." — Times Literary Supplement