Top Ten Fairytales

Hello and welcome to the first blog from The Greystones Press! This is the first in what will be an approximately monthly blog, bringing you some extra value, we hope, in the form of author interviews, top tens and other extra tidbits. Last year we published the marvellous Seven Miles of Steel Thistles by Katherine Langrish and she has written this marvellous post about it for Folklore Thursday.


  1. The Fisherman’s Wife I actually wrote about this for Kath’s blog with the same name as her book and you can read why it speaks to me here.
  2. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. This was my favourite fairy story when I was a child, in spite of its having such a sad ending. Actually, I liked it because of the sad ending. I haven’t seen the Disney film version but I can’t bear the idea that the ending would be changed to a happy one. That would be to twist the whole tale.
  3. The Princess and the Pea I like this one because of its absurdity – the very idea that princesses are born to be so preternaturally sensitive that they can feel a dried pea through twenty mattresses. And the ridiculous prince who will consider marrying ONLY the most refined bride. Surely if she is so fastidious, she should turn him down for being so far from perfect?
  4. Diamonds and Toads This is the one where two (step)sisters treat an old woman very differently and are “rewarded in different ways: the first by having diamonds and other precious stones falling out of her mouth every time she speaks and the other, cross, one by spitting out toads and creepy-crawlies. I can’t help feeling that having precious gems in your mouth might be just as uncomfortable though in a drier way.
  5. The Twelve Dancing Princesses I have re-told this a few times, most recently in two versions for Barefoot Books and it has always been a favourite. The idea of the twelve sisters and their mysterious night time adventures that wear out their slippers night after night has always appealed. I I like very much the fact that the old soldier chooses the oldest princess to marry and not the youngest, even though she was the only one who could detect his presence as he spied on them.


  1. The Fairy of the Dawn in the Violet Fairy Book (ed. Andrew Lang) What is so wonderful is the whirlwindjourney through the three magical woods, with leaves of different coloured metal – gold, silver and copper. The picture by H J Ford of the whirlwind seizing the wreath has haunted me for years.
  2. A Tale of the Tontlawald (also in the Violet Fairy Book) The girl in the story, Elsa, is given a double in this world while she explores fairyland. It’s a magical and enchanting tale.
  3. Rumpelstiltskin I have a soft spot for this story perhaps because I played the eponymous hero in a school platy when I was seven years old. I enjoyed stamping my foot but also liked getting the impossible tasks done overnight. This would be a very useful skill now that I am a publisher!
  4. Two in a Sack There are two magic sacks, from one of which come two boys who can produce a wonderful dinner on command. But from the other one come two rough men who will beat you up without preamble. A henpecked husband improves his marriage with the help of both sacks.
  5. Jack and the Beanstalk This was the subject of the pantomime we saw in Edinburgh on Christmas Day on our honeymoon! It was so strange being able to go to the theatre on Christmas Day at all. I thought the performance was splendid but was in no mood to be critical.

So those are our favourites. We wonder what yours are?