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1001 Stories Collection

Dick Whittington

1001 Dick Whittington And His Cat Mario Klassen
Added on 12th August 2020

Oral tradition English folktale

Dick Whittington sets off to seek his fortune in London, where the streets are paved with gold.

Story

A poor boy with no parents decides to leave the countryside to seek his fortune in London, where he hears the streets are paved with gold. When he arrives, there is no gold in sight, only mud. He must work hard and with the help of a cat, perhaps he might succeed…

Why we chose it

Dick Whittington is one of the best known English folktales and still a popular pantomime today.

Where it came from

This tale is based on the true story of Richard Whittington, who was born in the 1350s. However, many details have been changed and there is no evidence that Whittington ever owned a cat. A play called The History of Richard Whittington, of his lowe byrth, his great fortune was granted permission to be performed in 1604-5. The earliest written version is a ballad written by Richard Johnson in 1612.

Where it went next

The legend has been adapted into many different forms. It was transformed into a puppet play in the 18th century and the first known performance of the story in pantomime form was in 1814. It continues to be a popular pantomime today and features the villain King Rat.

Associated stories

Helpful cats feature in a number of traditional tales. Perhaps the best known is Puss in Boots. The Brothers Grimm tell a similar story The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat.

Added on 12th August 2020

Oral tradition English folktale