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1001 Stories Collection

One Thousand and One Nights

1001 1001 Arabian Nights
Added on 02nd July 2020

Oral tradition Folktales from the Middle East

Middle East Action and adventure Family Magic

Scheherazade, the king's new wife, begins to tell him a story. 1001 nights and 1001 tales later we have this epic collection of oral stories from the Middle East.


After discovering his wife has been unfaithful, King Shahryār scorns all women. He marries and kills a new bride every day. Eventually Scheherazade, the Vizier’s daughter, volunteers to marry him and, on their wedding night, starts to tell the King a story, but doesn’t finish. He postpones her execution so he can hear the end, but Scheherazade starts a new story within that story, and so begins 1001 tales. When she finally ends the king spares her, for he has fallen in love.

Why we chose it

The plight of Scheherazade is the ultimate ‘framing story’, a larger narrative that contains many smaller tales. Many of these have become famous in their own right, such as Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sinbad the Sailor, and have inspired storytellers ever since. Scheherazade beautifully demonstrates the addictive power of a good story to arouse our curiosity to discover what happens next.

Where it came from

The Thousand and One Nights is sometimes known as The Arabian Nights and has a complex history. It is a composite work, gathered over centuries by writers, scholars and translators, and contains many orally transmitted stories from India and Persia as well as later tales from Asia and Africa. The language and stories vary wildly and include romances, histories, tragedies, comedies and poems. The first known reference to the Nights is in a ninth century fragment.

Where it went next

The first European translation was by Antoine Galland in 1712 and added many tales not in the original Arabic. The first complete English translation was by British explorer Richard Burton, who had studied Arabic at Oxford. This was privately published in 1885 because of indecent passages. The next complete English translation did not appear until 2008.

The tales have influenced countless authors and artists and have appeared as plays, pantomimes and films.

Associated Stories

The use of stories-within-stories can be traced back to earlier Persian and Indian storytelling traditions, including the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables.

Added on 02nd July 2020

Oral tradition Folktales from the Middle East

Middle East Action and adventure Family Magic