Asbjørnsen and Moe  

Episode fourteen is about the Norwegian fairy tale collectors Asbjørnsen and Moe. Famous for their rigour, their poetry, and their expression of their national culture.

Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe recorded tales such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff, East of The Sun West of The Moon, The Princess on The Glass Hill, as well as many others filled with trolls, hulder, and Ash-Lads.

The two men were best friends and lived extraordinary lives and deserve to be as well known worldwide as The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Andrew Lang. 

Additional research from Simon Hughes, whose translations can be read at norwegianfolktales.blogspot.com 

Music by Kai Engel, find his music at www.kai-engel.com

If you want to support Singing Bones please head to singingbonespodcast.com/support

Read "Popular Tales From the Norse" Learn more



Previous Episodes
The Little Mermaid Part 2  

Illustration by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

The Little Mermaid is a famously dark and melancholy fairy tale. This week we look at the stories that inspired Hans Christian Andersen stories of sirens, of Undine, and Eastern European rusalka and the scary watermen known as Vodnik. 

We also talk to two real mermaids about what it is like to really be a mermaid! With Mermaid Jessica Pearl and Mermaid Amelia we look at modern mermaid culture and the pros and cons of Disney romanticism. 

Music this episode by Kai Engel

Find The Perth Mermaids here:




read mermaid stories here  Previous Episodes
The Little Mermaid Part 1  

Illustration by Jennie Harbour

Part one of two traces the history of The Little Mermaid, from Ancient Goddesses of love and fertility to folk stories of love and marriage, slavery and gender politics. 

This episode focuses on selkies, finfolk, and Sea Kings, with an interview with Finn O'Branagáin, talking about the power of these stories. Next week we look at sirens, rusalka, and talk to some real live mermaids.

To read more about Finn O'Branagáin's play click HERE

Music by Kai EngelMoody Alien ,and Antonin Dvorak

Mermaid Illustrations Mermaid stories   
Ali Baba and 1001 Nights  

Illustration by Walter Crane

To tell the history of Alibaba is to tell the story of the "Arabian Nights" stories. From a 14th Century Syrian text called 1001 Nights the European world fell in love with Middle Eastern wonder stories.

AliBaba has long captured imaginations worldwide, with its themes of family, goodness and treasure. But where did it arrive from? Is it Arabic, Greek, or possibly completely composed by a European in love with the city of Baghdad.

Music by ¡para!helion

To read a translation of 1001 Night from the original Arabic I recommend this version by Hussain Haddawy

Read The Tales Image Gallery
Twelve Dancing Princesses  

Illustration by Sheilah Beckett 

The Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces, are stories of fairy kidnapping and possession. In this episode we look at the stories of the fey, the she, elves, devils, peri, and all sorts of wicked spirits that wisk young maidens and lads away to their magic kingdoms where they do nothing but dance. From Iceland to India the stories of fairy kidnappings and those that rescue them talk to us about sin, sleep, and dance. 

Music by Christy-Lynn

and Ed Harris

Read The Dancing Princess Stories Dancing Princess Gallery   
Little Red Riding Hood  

Illustration by Divica Landrova

Cover of "Lil' Red Ridin' Hood" by The Brooke

To read more about werewolves look here and here.

To read Jack Zipes find his book here

Read The tale Little Red Gallery   

Illustration by Winslow Hollow

"Be bold, be bold, but not too bold."

Bluebeard is one of the most gruesome and dark stories of the fairy tale cannon. Before true crime or horror stories people told the story of the serial killer with the un-naturally blue beard, and the many wives he murdered.

Before we had the term serial killer we called repeat killers Bluebeards', and the real men from history who inspired the tale are considered some of the most vicious in history. In this episode we look at Bluebeard and it's cousin stories of Mr. Fox, and The Devil Who Married Three sisters, and examine the histories of the three men thought to have inspired the story. One a king of France, another a King of England, and Barron who was a companion to Joan of Arc.

Harp music by OMNIA

Other music from the Opera "Bluebeard's Castle" by Béla Bartók

Read Bluebeard and similar tales Bluebeard Gallery
The Brothers Grimm and Sisters Wild  

The statue of the brothers in Kassel

The Brother's Grimm are synonyms with fairy tales. Yet most people do not know how they collected their tales, or more importantly who they collected them from. 

Born in a time of war and shifting borders and fearing a loss of national identity the brothers sought to record all fairy tales in German. Their sources were mostly young women, sisters who shared the Grimm's passion for folktales and yet they were not credited as the brothers were, Matt Damon did not play them in a movie. 

This week we are looking at the lives of The Brothers Grimm and the women who they collected their stories from. For in order to understand the history of fairy tales, we must understand the tale tellers.

Grimm brothers reading list



The Singing Bone  

Paper cut illustration by Clare Testoni

The Singing Bone is one of the oldest folk tales and is often considered a bridging point between folk tales and ghost stories. With origins going back 2200 years to China and Africa it continues to live in folk and country songs. Telling the sad tale of brothers and sisters killing each other, and only the dead siblings enchanted bones telling the truth of their fate.

Read and listen to the tales here Singing Bones Gallery
The Sleeping Beauty  

Illustration by Jennie Harbour

Sleeping Beauty is one of the darkest and most erotically charged tales and this weeks episode is not suitable for those that simply want to hear the picture book story. From origins in Icelandic and French folklore through to the forgotten second act of Perrault and Basile's versions of Sleeping Beauty you have to be brave to court the princess asleep in the woods. It's a dark and thorny path. 

Sleeping Beauty Gallery
Jack and The Beanstalk  

Giants are our fears and foes made large, Jack and The Beanstalk comes from a history of the small against the strong. It is what remains of a lost tradition of boys own adventure tales. In this episode we follow our fears from Goliath, to Norwegian independence, through to British colonialism and freudian psychoanalysis. 

Read more about Jeffrey Jay Fowler and his upcoming work.

Music by Dave Depper and Will Bangs

Read the stories Gallery of Giants
Snow White  

Illustration by Jennie Harbour for My Book of Favourite Fairy Tales, 1921

Snow White is one of the best known tales, how and why did it become so? In Episode three we look at poisoned Baronesses, Persephone and Hades, pantomime, and early cinema. Looking at the dark story of jealousy and blossoming beauty. 

Music for this episode by the wonderful Musk Ox

Read Snow White and Similar tales Snow White Gallery Snow White silent film (1916)
The Pied Piper  

In episode two we look into the only fairytale that does not start 'once upon a time' but rather 'in 1284'. The mystery of what happened to the children of Hamlin has fascinated Johann Goethe, Robert Browning, and troubled the minds of historians for hundreds of years.  We look at the historical background of The Pied Piper of Hamlin and how a true event became bound up with a tale of rats, pipers, and magic mountains to be the tale we know today.

Henry Marsh, wood engraving, from the Riverside Magazine for Young People, Volume II, January 1868

Music by Kevin Kastning and Carl ClementsLisa GermanoMiriam Fried (violin) Jonathan Biss (piano)

Read the tales Look at the gallery
Beauty and The Beast  

Illustration by John Batten for European Folk and Fairy Tales, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1916

In our first episode I unlock the history of Beauty and The Beast, from Roman myth through to modern tale the Animal Bridegroom has fascinated and repulsed us for over a thousand years. For who could ever love a beast?....

Music from the album Woodfall by Musk Ox

read the original tale Beauty and The Beast Gallery
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