First Friday Fairy Tales: July Edition (My Thoughts)


This wouldn’t be my blog special if I didn’t take a few moments to share a bit about what this month’s fairy tale means to me! And what a great one to start off with! So, this will be my moment of indulgence to talk a little about me and why I love Beauty and the Beast.

I’m pretty terrible about choosing a favorite fairy tale, but I have a short list, and Beauty and the Beast is on it. Like anyone born in the early 1990s, my first exposure to the story was through the Disney movie, which–let’s be honest–is a work of art. I related to Belle from an early age. I loved books and reading, and I wasn’t the sort to follow the well-trodden path. I had a huge imagine and I loved stories. It was little surprised that I began writing my own almost as soon as I could read. If you asked me, I would have said that my favorite Disney Princesses were Ariel or Jasmine, but deep down … I had most in common with Belle. 

I have memories of my dad reading me Grimms’ Fairy Tales in funny voices–especially The Three Billy Goats Gruff–but Beauty and the Beast isn’t a Grimms’ story. Instead, I got my fill by the 398.2 section in my local library, which was filled with beautiful illustrated versions of the fairy tale that I regularly checked out and read over and over again. Fairy tales were always a love of mine, Beauty and the Beast among them, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I really began to embrace them anew. 

As most of you well know, I’m on the aromantic spectrum, so the romance aspect of Beauty and the Beast was never the most important or interesting thing to me. But when I learned about the deeper meaning behind the stories, about how women found comfort in the tale in the face of intense social pressures, it started to take on a whole new angle for me. I found even more encouragement from it, because it was no longer strictly about romance, but about women’s strength of character and their agency. In addition, reading the original de Villeneuve version opened my eyes to a truly beautiful narrative that I’d never known existed, and I’m still in love with it today. In fact, this story may be a big reason why French fairy tales are my favorite to study. When I began my fairy tale adaptations, I knew I would have to include it.

The Beauty and the Beast segment isn’t included in the first installment of my series, Unrooted (though if you pay attention you may be able to catch hints of it). But it is a major portion in a later part of the series, and I adored tying it to other stories, looking deeply at the implications of de Villeneueve’s abundant symbolism, and exploring the story with a new angle. Enchanted roses and magic mirrors remain major motifs in my series, in part because of Beauty and the Beast. How can one explain the dreams Beauty has of her prince? What is the true past of the Beast, and how has it been hidden from the world? These questions and more have driven my exploration of the story, and though it has been the hardest book in the series to write so far (Book 4 is certainly giving it a run for its money), it sets a major part of the foundation for the story and it was such a pleasure to explore all that this fantastic fairy tale had to offer. 

It’s also worth mentioning that I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses because it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling (or at least partly so). And without the ACOTAR fandom, there’s no way I would be where I am right now. Beauty and the Beast brought me that. 

Beauty and the Beast is a story not just of romance, but of endurance, independence, and intricate magic. If you expand it to include other Lost Husband or Animal Bridegroom stories, my love increases all the more–because I adore women being the hero and saving their true loves, rather than sitting passively and hoping it all turns out in the end. Though I love the Disney movie, I wish more knew about the earlier versions of the stories. That is a big reason why First Friday Fairy Tales exists now–to share more about these wonderful stories and what they have meant to me and to many more readers and listeners across centuries. Beauty and the Beast will continue to be an important part of my life, and I’m so happy for this opportunity to talk about this brilliant tale.

(Header Art by K.Y. Craft)


First Friday Fairy Tales: July Edition (Art)

Below is a collection of art pieces and illustrations of the story Beauty and the Beast! All images are credited. 

Walter CraneBeauty and the Beast. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1874.

A.L. Bowley, 1920

Beauty and the Beast, Eleanor Vere Boyle, 1875.

Beauty and the Beast by Mercer Mayer

Beauty and the Beast by Kinuko Y. Craft

Art by @mandiemanzano

Art by Aaron Miller

Beauty and the Beast by Allen Douglas, 2010

Art by 73554B

Golding, Harry, editor. Fairy Tales. Margaret Tarrant, illustrator. London: Ward, Lock & Co., 1915.

First Friday Fairy Tales: July Edition (Folklore)


As mentioned in the history post from earlier today, Beauty and the Beast is a literary story that doesn’t have a direct equivalent in oral folklore traditions. However, it borrow heavily from what it known as the “Animal Bridegroom” tale type. Below is a list of sources and examples of Animal Bridegroom folklore for you to explore if you’re hungry for more like Beauty and the Beast!

Tales Across Cultures

SurLaLune Fairy Tales: Heidi Anne Heiner has a page here listing tales that also fall into Tale Type 425C–Beauty and the Beast. They’re a subgroup of the “Animal Bridegroom” Tale Type, and it’s the best place to look for very similar stories.

I’ve also recommended her book, Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World, on this blog before, so it’s worth checking out to get a huge collection of similar stories!

D.L. Ashliman’s Folktexts: D.L. Ashliman is a well-known scholar associated with the University of Pittsburgh. He has a site here listing Animal Bride stories from around the world.

  1. Chonguita the Monkey Wife (Philippines)
  2. The Dog Bride (India)
  3. The Cat Who Became a Queen (India)
  4. The Mouse Maiden (Sri Lanka)
  5. The Frog’s Skin (Georgia)
  6. The Tsarevna Frog (Russia)
  7. The Frog (Austria/Italy)
  8. The Frog’s Bridegroom (Germany)
  9. Doll i’ the Grass (Norway)
  10. The She-Wolf (Croatia)

His page here lists specifically North American Indian variants:

 And his page here that lists other specifically 425C variants.

  1. Beauty and the Beast (Reconstructed from various European sources by Joseph Jacobs).
  2. Link to Beauty and the Beast (France, Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont). This is the classic version of the story, first published in 1757.
  3. Link to The Story of the Beauty and the Beast (France, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve – as translated by J. R. Planché in Four and Twenty Fairy Tales: Selected from Those of Perrault and Other Popular Writers [London: G. Routledge and Company, 1858], pp. 225-325).
  4. Link to Beauty and the Beast (France, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve – as abridged and retold by Andrew Lang in The Blue Fairy Book, 5th edition [London: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1891], pp. 100-119).
  5. The Small-Tooth Dog (England, Sidney Oldall Addy).
  6. Rose (Irish-American).
  7. The Summer and Winter Garden (Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm).
  8. Link to The Singing, Springing Lark (Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm).
  9. The Clinking Clanking Lowesleaf (Germany, Carl and Theodor Colshorn).
  10. The Little Nut Twig (Germany, Ludwig Bechstein).
  11. Little Broomstick (Germany, Ludwig Bechstein).
  12. Link to The Enchanted Frog (Germany, Carl and Theodor Colshorn).
  13. Beauty and the Horse (Denmark, J. Christian Bay).
  14. The Singing Rose (Austria, Ignaz and Joseph Zingerle).
  15. The Bear Prince (Switzerland, Otto Sutermeister).
  16. Beauty and the Beast (Basque).
  17. Zelinda and the Monster (Italy, Thomas Frederick Crane).
  18. The Snake-Prince (Greece, Lucy M. J. Garnett).
  19. The Enchanted Tsarévich (Russia, Alexander Afanasyev).
  20. The Fairy Serpent (China, Adele M. Fielde).

These are only two sites with abundant tales and sources for you to explore! I hope putting them all in one place will encourage you to go looking for more! I’ve been using Heidi Anne Heiner’s work for years and I highly recommend her. I have cited D.L. Ashliman’s work in my research papers before and will likely do so again in the future. I can guarantee that these are highly credible sources, and I hope that for other First Friday Fairy Tales installments in the future, I’ll be able to provide an even wider array of sources for you to dig into! 

Bonne chance! 

(Header art by K.Y. Craft)

First Friday Fairy Tales: July Edition (Reading List)


Reading Recommendations

Original Tale/Folklore Variants

Fiction Books (Retellings)

Children’s/Middle Grade

Young Adult

New Adult



Note: The heading links to a much larger list of retellings on Goodreads. Here I’ve listed the ones either of quality or which qualify as true-to-form retellings (some on the Goodreads list are retellings of other tales similar to Beauty and the Beast). I’ve limited the non-fiction references to publicly-available works. Everything I’ve marked with an asterisk is a book I’ve read myself. 

(Header Art by K.Y. Craft)




This is at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This is a statue of Thomas Jefferson.

Those bricks behind him?

Each one has the name of an enslaved person that Thomas Jefferson owned.

Also written behind him on the wall is the section of the Declaration of Independance which states all men are created equal.

this is how you document this shit. THIS. With the weight of his actions visibly stood up and measured against the weight of his words. 

First Friday Fairy Tales: July Edition (History)


History of Beauty and the Beast by Sarah Viehmann

Beauty and the Beast is a story beloved by many, but known well by far fewer. Thanks to the rousing success of Disney’s 1991 film (and the subsequent, less rousing reboot in 2017), most people of many generations know this story from the movie. Belle is a oddball bookworm, the Beast has anger management issues, and the household appliances can talk, sing, and dance. Not to mention the rival love interest! It should be little surprise that almost none of these characteristics are present in the earlier literary versions of the tales, but few are aware of the full history of Beauty and the Beast and other tales of its type. 

Click “Read More” for a full, original essay!


While the most familiar version of Beauty and the Beast has only been around just short of 400 years, the folklore variants of the story are much older. Beauty and the Beast is classified by the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Folktale Classification Index as Tale Type 425C (Tales of Magic > Supernatural or Enchanted Wife (Husband) or Other Relative > Husband). Though Beauty and the Beast has its own category within the 425 type, there is a great deal of related folklore and mythology related to animal bridegrooms going back thousands of years. Scholars often cite Apuleius’s The Golden Ass as an early source of inspiration for Beauty and the Beast. But we’ll talk more about The Golden Ass when we discuss the fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon in a future edition First Friday Fairy Tales!

There isn’t, as such, an easily-traceable folkloric history for the story of Beauty and the Beast that we know and love. It has a far more recent literary history, but if you’re interested in folklore like this story, be sure to look up Animal Bridegroom stories and sate your appetite!

Fairy Tale

The literary version of Beauty and the Beast, which has inspired all the versions that we know best today, was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. It was entitled La Belle et la Bête and was part of her collection Les Jeune Americaine, ou les contes marins. What few people know is that this literary version of the tale is what we would call novella-length today. It contains not just the story of the hero and heroine but a full backstory for the Beast and Beauty, which details Beauty’s true heritage as a half-fairy princess. But the tale was not simply a flight of fancy. Like most writers of fairy tales in France, de Villeneuve had a particular social matter she was trying to address within the safety of her fiction.

Terri Windling, a well-known contributor to the fairy-tale retelling genre, wrote a wonderful history of the tale for Endicott Studios and describes the hidden purposes of the story:

Chief among these was a critique of a marriage system in which women had few legal rights — no right to chose their own husband, no right to refuse the marriage bed, no right to control their own property, and no right of divorce. Often the brides were fourteen or fifteen years old, given to men who were decades older … Their Animal Bridegroom stories, in particularly, embodied the real–life fears of women who could be promised to total strangers in marriage, and who did not know if they’d find a beast or a lover in their marriage bed.

The story features several notable characteristics which are absent from later, truncated versions. Beauty dreams of the prince that is hiding under the Beast’s skin, but does not recognize the truth. Additionally, every night, the Beast asks her a question which has been a quandary for “respectable” translators ever since. The question, when censored, is translated as “Will you marry me?” Other translations attempt something more literal: “May I sleep with you tonight?” The first English edition, translated by J.R. Planché, softens the question, and Heidi Anne Heiner comments on the change in her introduction to her book, Beauty and the Beast Tales from Around the World:

The changes, although small, are far from minor for they change an essential element of the tale. Instead of asking Beauty to marry him each night—a familiar refrain in modern versions of the story—the Beast asks Beauty, “May I sleep with you tonight?”

The question, while risqué, is not merely suggestive or erotic. It implies control and choice for Beauty over her own body and sexuality, something that was not legally hers or that of any woman who was handed over as property in marriage to a husband in centuries past.

Do recall, this was written in 1740–before the French Revolution or the American Revolution. It was in the early years of the Enlightenment, but Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman wouldn’t be written for another 52 years. While de Villeneuve was hardly the first person thinking about rights for women, many people are surprised to find out that their favorite fairy tales featured social critique in women’s favor so many centuries ago. This is also quite different from the common perception of Beauty and the Beast as a story about Stockholm Syndrome or the loss of rights for women. Of course, one must be careful and not think de Villeneuve’s work was “feminist” as we perceive the notion today–she still had to operate within the culture of her time–but one cannot underestimate the intense scrutiny that fairy tale writers of this time placed upon their own culture and society. 

Unfortunately, the story could not stay in de Villeneuve’s hands forever, and the story that we’ve inherited is more closely descended from a truncated version adapted by Jeanne-Marie le Prince de Beaumont sixteen years later.

Beaumont and the Shortened Story

In 1756, a French woman working in England, Jeanne-Marie le Prince de Beaumont, adapted de Villeneuve’s novella into a much shorter tale and tailored it for an audience not of adults, but for young ladies of society. This story cuts out all the backstory and the excessive detail of Beauty’s life at the palace. It also adds a very moralistic bent. Rather than critiquing the marriage system, de Beaumont’s tale was aimed more toward instructing young women on the characteristics they should maintain in order to gain happiness in their new marriage. This version was widely published and widespread, and it is because of this that the story is so often mistaken for a didactic tale today–one about a woman sacrificing her life for a romance rather than finding freedom in her circumstances. 

This version was retold and retold, and it entered the popular consciousness. Victorian writers added the notion of fate to the story, as Terri Windling writes:

In the 1843 poetic version attributed to Charles Lamb, as well as in the sumptuously illustrated Victorian editions that followed, the idea of fate (a metaphysical obsession of the period) is introduced. Beauty’s actions, such as going to the Beast’s castle in her father’s stead, are not simply attributed to either blind obedience (de Villeneuve) or honor (de Beaumont), but to the heroine’s acceptance of the predestined fate that lies before her. 

This further added to the didactic, limiting notion of Beauty’s circumstances with the Beast.

Older film adaptations such as Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946) brought the story into cultural awareness. But perhaps one of the most important adaptations of the story came in 1978 with Robin McKinley’s Beauty. This novel-length retelling of the story was one of the first books that launched the mainstream popularity of fairy-tale retellings. Other writers such as Angela Carter and Anne Sexton had begun working with retold fairy tales in their literary fiction and poetry, but McKinley helped begin the tradition of expanding tales in novel form. This book introduces us to Honour–who is jokingly nicknamed Beauty despite her plain appearance. She is intelligent and independent, and perhaps the original Bookworm Belle. It would be no surprise if Disney’s heroine was at least partly inspired by McKinley’s take on the fairy tale character.

Avid readers and fairy tale fans may be familiar with McKinley’s book, but the general populace is most familiar with Disney’s film. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast draws from de Beaumont’s shortened version of the tale but gives the heroine spunk. It adds music and whimsy. However, the change in nature of the Beast is perhaps the greatest and most fundamental change. Despite how intimidating the Beast was in both de Villeneuve’s and de Beaumont’s version, he was never vicious or violent. He was not full of rage or wrath. In de Villeneuve’s version, he was simply stupid and incapable of communicating properly–this was, in fact, part of his curse. Disney’s take on the Beast, creating a character who is tamed by love, changes the dynamic between Beauty and the Beast. While it may be a take more resonant with a late 20th-century audience, it very much changes the original essence of the story and adds to the misunderstanding of the fairy tale as a Stockholm Syndrome tale.

Beauty and the Beast Today

Beauty and the Beast continues to be popular and in the awareness of general audiences. The 2017 reboot of Disney’s film has only invigorated interest, raising familiar questions about female agency in this love story. Instead of looking back at the questions asked and answered in de Villeneuve’s story, the critics of the tale today focus more on whether or not Belle wears a corset than how the much-changed story they’ve inherited introduced problems not present in the earlier story. But apart from Disney, the tale is still being adapted and explored in exciting new ways. From queering the romance to switching genders to changing settings, the approaches to retelling the story are vast and multifaceted. It will be exciting to witness what comes next in the life of this story and examine how it relates to the story’s wonderful history.

(Header Art by K.Y. Craft)

First Friday Fairy Tales: July Edition


Welcome to the very first edition of First Friday Fairy Tales! The first Friday of every month, I will be sharing a number of posts centered around the randomly-selected fairy tale of the month. This month’s tale is Beauty and the Beast! This is one of my favorite stories, so I’m very excited to kick off with this story! Without further ado, here’s what to expect today.

Schedule of Posts:

I hope you enjoy this new blog feature, and I’m looking forward to putting together future installments. Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year:

Without further ado, let’s begin the excitement!

(Header Art by K.Y. Craft)