Fairy Tale Friday: The Princess and the Pea

I’m sure I’m not the only one doing this sort of thing on my blog, but I’m going to try to devote Fridays to Fairy Tales.

The current inspiration actually came from a project that a group of bloggers are doing called Project: Fairy Tale. If I’d known about it at the time of sign-ups, I would have totally signed up, but I’m going to unofficially participate here on my own, and I think I’m going to be using a fairy tale this month that no one else is using….The Princess and the Pea.



I have a very soft spot in my heart for this particular fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, and I’ll share more about that as the month goes on.

To read the actual fairy tale as written by Andersen (it’s quite short), you can visit Sur La Lune Fairy Tales (which is, by the way, a very excellent resource for all things fairy tale…lots of commentary about the actual stories, as well as lists of retellings and re-imaginings and more). It’s interesting to note that there were other versions of this story before Andersen popularized it, I’ve always thought that it was his to begin with.

You are probably familiar with the tale: a prince needs a princess, and none of the candidates have been just right. The tale doesn’t tell us what is wrong with them, or how many there have been. A princess shows up in the middle of a storm, and the Queen decides to test her, to see if she really is a princess.

The test is the peas placed under the pile of 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds. (It’s actually 3 peas in this version). Our princess, of course, does not sleep a wink, proving she is truly a princess, since only a real princess would have been sensitive enough to feel the peas.

And then the prince and princess live happily ever after.

Knowing the details of some of the variations and adaptations of this story have probably skewed my thinking about it, because I am left only with questions. Did the princess really feel the peas? Or was she tipped off by someone? What’s with the prince and being so choosy? Is there something wrong with him? And where did the princess come from? Where is her family? If she’s a princess, why is she wandering around by herself in a storm?

I will admit that part of the reason I like this story is the image of the pile of beds and bedding. I’m a quilter — I have a lot of bedding in my house! (I’ve lost count of how many quilts are in my house. We use them all the time — often with multiple quilts on a bed at once…) The artwork that this scene inspires is probably the best part of what’s come out of this story!


For next week’s post, I’m actually going to cheat, and not post about a book retelling, but a musical — Once Upon a Mattress — the real reason that I’m such a fan of the Princess and the Pea story!

Happy Friday. Hopefully it is warmer and less snowy where you are.



  1. Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books says:

    Aw that’s too bad you weren’t able to sign up on time. Perhaps this’ll become a regular event though? I’m familiar with this tale, but not with many retellings so I’ll be interested to read about them! I do agree – that is beautiful art in that image.

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