Trove of 500 fairytales discovered in Germany - Will Disney option the Turnip Princess?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

While Hollywood is bleeding the same three fairytales dry, a new crop of magical stories has been uncovered in Germany, recorded at the same time that the Brothers Grimm were collecting fairytales. Does this mean fresh content for fairytale films?

These folk stories were recorded not by the Grimms but by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, who in the 19th century traveled the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz, collecting traditions, histories, and customs from the locals. Among the details he recorded were those 500 fairytales, which sat hidden in the Oberpfalz archive. Last year, cultural curator Erika Eichenseer brought many of these stories to life, publishing a collection of selected stories in German, titled Prinz Roßzwifl. Now some of those stories are being translated into English.

Here's the beginning to one of those stories, "The Turnip Princess":

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog. The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.

One day, the bear was alone with him and spoke to the prince: "Pull the rusty nail from the wall, so that I shall be delivered, and place it beneath a turnip in the field, and in this way you shall have a beautiful wife." The prince seized the nail so strongly that the cave shook and the nail cracked loudly like a clap of thunder. Behind him a bear stood up from the ground like a man, bearded and with a crown on his head.

"Now I shall find a beautiful maiden," cried the prince and went forth nimbly. He came to a field of turnips and was about to place the nail beneath one of them when there appeared above him a monster, so that he dropped the nail, pricked his finger on a hedge and bled until he fell down senseless. When he awoke he saw that he was elsewhere and that he had long slumbered, for his smooth chin was now frizzy with a blond beard.


You can read the rest of this story at the Guardian, or head over to the New Yorker and read "King Goldilocks," which starts like this:

A king had a son with hair of gold. One day the king went hunting in the woods and encountered a giant of a man leaning against a tree. He lifted his hunting horn, summoned his men, and they caught the wild man. Overjoyed, the king held a celebration and invited many other kings to join him.

Goldenlocks was playing with a ball and threw it right into the wild man's cage, and he tossed it back. But the next time, he held onto it and said that he would return it only if Goldenlocks promised to set him free. While his father was sleeping, the boy tiptoed over and took his key, which was hanging on a chain around his neck. He set the wild man free and put the key back on the chain. The festivities were just beginning, and the wild man was supposed to appear before the monarchs gathered in the hall. But he was nowhere to be found. The king flew into a rage and swore that he would punish the crime, even if it had been committed by his own flesh and blood.


Top image from Vertigo's comic Fables, featuring more familiar fairytale characters.

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany [The Guardian via HowStuffWorks via reddit]
"King Goldilocks": A Newly Translated Fairy Tale [The New Yorker]