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1001 Stories Collection


Video and Learning Resource
1001 rumpelstiltskin ddp
Added on 11th September 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from Germany

Europe Folk and fairy tales Magic

A girl makes a promise to a mysterious imp in return for his magical help.


When a miller lies to the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold, the king summons her to his palace. He locks her in a room full of straw and threatens to chop off her head if the straw isn’t turned into gold by morning. In desperation, the miller’s daughter strikes a deal with a magical imp with a mysterious name…

Why we chose it

A story full of fairy tale elements – a foolish and boastful father, a magical helper who demands a price for his help, an impossible task and the power of a name.

Where it came from

The tale of the gold-spinning imp dates back to at least the 16th century, and is thought to have roots in Greek and Roman mythology. By the 19th century, similar stories were known across Europe, including Tom Tit Tot in England and Whuppity Stoorie in Scotland. The Grimm brothers were told the German version, Rumpelstilzchen, by Dortchen Wild, and included it in Children’s and Household Tales (1812).

Where it went next

The story has inspired countless songs, ballets, plays and books. Rumpelstiltskin himself features in a variety of other stories, including in John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things (2006) and the Shrek films. The story has even made a mark in the field of psychology: the “Rumpelstiltskin Principle” refers to the value and power of calling people by their name.

Associated stories

The brothers Grimm collected over 200 stories. These include Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. There are many published collections of their stories and retellings of favourites like those in Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales.

In the programme

The Pied Piper of Hamelin was one of the Stories from the Woodshed in October 2020, chosen and told by Sandra Agard. Watch the video below.

Added on 11th September 2020

Oral tradition Folktale from Germany

Europe Folk and fairy tales Magic

Learning Resources

  • 1001 Rumplestiltskin Resource Pack PDF (1.4 MB)