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1001 Stories Collection

Sleeping Beauty

Video and Learning Resource
1001 sleepingbeauthlittlebriarrose andreygrinkevich
Added on 23rd September 2020

Oral tradition European folktale

Europe Folk and fairy tales

Also know as Little Briar Rose, this is the tale of a princess doomed to sleep for a hundred years.


At her christening a princess is cursed by a fairy to die after pricking her finger on a spindle. Another fairy is able to change the curse so that she will not die but sleep for a hundred years. The king banishes all spinning wheels from the palace but some years later the inquisitive girl finds an old spindle.

Why we chose it

The romantic version of the tale, popularised by the Disney film, is particularly popular with lovers of fairy tale princesses and was high on the list of favourite fairy tales chosen by visitors to the museum.

Where it came from

The tale of a sleeping beauty dates back at least to the 13th century, appearing in French and Italian medieval texts, and even has roots in Norse sagas. Charles Perrault fixed the story as we know it today, and the Grimm brothers collected a similar story years later. There are many different endings to the tale. Whereas Perrault ends with the princess waking up, the Grimm’s and earlier versions are a lot darker, some including cannibalism and an ogre.

Where it went next

Sleeping Beauty has inspired numerous books, pantomimes, and musicals, even as early as an 1840 performance at Covent Garden. Famous adaptations include Tchaikovsky’s ballet (1890), the 1959 Disney film animation (which contains some of Tchaikovsky’s music), and Sondheim’s Broadway hit Into the Woods.

Associated stories

In Perrault’s collection, the tale appears alongside Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Puss in Boots. The story of a sleeping beauty appears in stories from a number of cultures and countries including the 1001 Arabian Nights, and an Indian tale called The Doomed Prince.

In our programme

Sleeping Beauty was one of the Stories from the Woodshed in October 2020, chosen and told by Nell Phoenix. Watch the video below.

Added on 23rd September 2020

Oral tradition European folktale

Europe Folk and fairy tales

Learning Resources

  • 1001 Sleeping Beauty Resource Pack PDF (984.676 KB)