Cinderella Fairy Tale

Cinderella

Her father remarries, but Cinderella’s new stepmother and stepsisters are very cruel to her. Then the king organizes a festival. Will she go?

Cinderella is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a young orphan woman. Her stepmother and stepsisters treat her bad. She goes to a festival and wins the prince’s heart. He captures her golden slipper. The slipper does not fit the stepsisters, but it fits Cinderella and they live happily ever after.

Complete text Cinderella

Mother speaks for the last time

The wife of a rich man fell sick. She felt that her end was drawing near and called her only daughter to her bedside. “Dear child, be good and pious, and then the good God will always protect you and I will look down on you from heaven and be near you.”

She closed her eyes and departed. Every day the young girl went out to her mother’s grave and wept. She remained pious and good.

Winter came and the snow spread a white sheet over the grave. When the spring sun had drawn it off again, the rich man had taken another wife.

A stepmother and two stepsisters come in

The woman had brought two daughters into the house with her. They were beautiful and fair of face, but vile and black of heart. They gave the stepchild a bad time.

“Does the stupid goose want to sit in the parlor with us?” they said. “He who wants to eat bread must earn it; out with the kitchen-wench.”

They took her pretty clothes away from her, dressed her in an old grey bed gown and gave her wooden shoes. “Just look at the proud princess, how fancy she looks!” they shouted and laughed.

She had to do hard work in the kitchen from morning till night. She had to get up before daybreak, carry water, light fires, cook and wash. Besides all he work, the sisters tried to hurt her in every imaginable way. They mocked her. They emptied her peas and lentils into the ashes, so that she was forced to sit and pick them out again.

In the evening when she was weary from working she had no bed to go to, but had to sleep by the fireside in the ashes. Because of that she always looked dusty and dirty and they called her Cinderella.

Father brings a gift

Once her father was going to the fair. He asked his two stepdaughters what he should bring back for them. “Beautiful dresses,” said one, “Pearls and jewels,” said the second. “And you, Cinderella,” he said, “what do you want?”

“Father, break off for me the first branch which knocks against your hat on your way home.”

So he bought beautiful dresses, pearls and jewels for his two stepdaughters. On his way home, as he was riding through a green thicket, a hazel twig brushed against him and knocked off his hat. He broke off the branch and took it with him.

When he reached home he gave his stepdaughters the things which they had wished for. To Cinderella he gave the branch from the hazel bush. She thanked him, went to her mother’s grave and planted the branch on it. She wept so much that the tears fell down on it and watered it.

It grew into a handsome tree. Thrice a day Cinderella went and sat beneath it, weeping and praying. A little white bird always landed on the tree. And when Cinderella expressed a wish, the bird threw down to her what she had wished for.

The king gives a festival for all beautiful girls

The King appointed a festival which was to last three days. To this festival all the beautiful young girls in the country were invited, in order that his son might choose for himself a bride.

When the two stepsisters heard that they too were invited, they were delighted. They called Cinderella and said, “Comb our hair for us, brush our shoes and fasten our buckles, for we are going to the festival at the king’s palace.”

Cinderella obeyed, but wept, because she too would have liked to go with them to the dance. She begged her stepmother to allow her to do so. “You, Cinderella?!” she said; “You are dusty and dirty and you would like to go to the festival? You have no clothes and shoes, and yet you want to dance?!”

Cinderella went on asking and the stepmother at last said, “I have emptied a dish of lentils into the ashes for you, if you have picked them out again in two hours, you will go with us.”

The birds help Cinderella for the first time

The young woman went through the backdoor into the garden, and called out, “You tame pigeons, you turtle doves and all you birds beneath the sky, come and help me to pick,

“The good ones in the pot,
The bad ones in the crop.”

Two white pigeons came in by the kitchen window. Afterwards the turtle doves landed. At last all the birds beneath the sky came whirring and crowding in. They all ended up in the ashes.

The pigeons nodded with their heads and began pick, pick, pick, pick, and the rest began also pick, pick, pick, pick. They gathered all the good lentils into the dish. Hardly had one hour passed before they had finished and all flew out again.

The girl took the dish to her stepmother. She was glad and believed that now she would be allowed to go with them to the festival. But the stepmother said, “No, Cinderella, you have no clothes and you can’t dance; people who only laugh at you.”

When Cinderella started weeping, the stepmother said, “If you can pick two dishes of lentils out of the ashes for me in one hour, you can come with us.” And she thought to herself, “For sure she cannot do that.”

The birds help Cinderella for the second time

When the stepmother had emptied the two dishes of lentils in the ashes, Cinderella went through the backdoor into the garden and called out, “You tame pigeons, you turtle doves and all you birds under heaven, come and help me to pick

“The good ones in the pot,
The bad ones in the crop.”

Two white pigeons came in by the kitchen window. Afterwards the turtle doves landed. At last all the birds beneath the sky came whirring and crowding in. They all ended up in the ashes.

The doves nodded with their heads and began pick, pick, pick, pick, and the others began also pick, pick, pick, pick. They gathered all the good lentils into the dishes. Before half an hour was over they had already finished and all flew out again.

She carried the dishes to her stepmother and was delighted: now she might now go with them to the festival! But the stepmother said, “All this will not help you. You are not coming with us, because you have no clothes and you cannot dance. We would be ashamed of you!

She turned her back on Cinderella, and hurried away with her two proud daughters.

Cinderella goes to the festival

No one was at home anymore and Cinderella went to her mother’s grave beneath the hazel tree.

She cried,

“Shiver and quiver, little tree,
Silver and gold throw down over me.”

The bird threw a gold and silver dress down to her and slippers embroidered with silk and silver. She put on the dress with all speed and went to the festival.

Her stepsisters and stepmother did not recognize her. They thought that she was a foreign princess, for she looked so beautiful in the golden dress. They never once thought of Cinderella. They believed that she was sitting at home in the dirt, picking lentils out of the ashes.

The prince went to meet her, took her by the hand and danced with her. He would dance with no other girl and never let go of her hand. When anyone else came to invite her, he said, “This is my partner.”

Cinderella rushes home

She danced till it was evening and then she wanted to go home. But the prince said, “I will go with you and keep you company,” because he wished to see to which family the beautiful young woman belonged.

She escaped from him by jumping into the pigeon house. The prince waited until her father came and then he told him that the stranger girl had leapt into the pigeon house. The old man thought, “Could it be Cinderella?”

They had to bring him an axe and a pick axe. He hew the pigeon house to pieces, but no one was inside it.

When they got home Cinderella lay in her dirty clothes among the ashes. A dim little oil lamp was burning on the mantelpiece.

Cinderella had jumped quickly down from the back of the pigeon house and had run to the little hazel tree. There she had taken off her beautiful clothes and laid them on the grave. The bird had taken them away again. She had placed herself in the kitchen among the ashes in her grey gown.

A second visit to the festival

Next day when the festival began afresh, and her parents and the stepsisters had gone once more, Cinderella went to the hazel tree and said—

“Shiver and quiver, my little tree,
Silver and gold throw down over me.”

The bird threw down a much more beautiful dress than on the preceding day. When Cinderella appeared at the festival in this dress every one was astonished at her beauty.

The prince had waited until she came and instantly took her by the hand and danced with no one but her. When others came and invited her, he said, “She is my partner.”

Cinderella rushes home again

When evening came she wished to leave. The prince followed her and wanted to see into which house she went. She sprang away from him and ran into the garden behind the house.

There stood a beautiful tall tree on which hung the most magnificent pears. She clambered so nimbly between the branches like a squirrel that the prince did not know where she was gone. He waited until her father came and said to him, “The stranger girl has escaped from me and I believe she has climbed up the pear tree.”

The father thought, “Could it be Cinderella?” and had an axe brought. He cut the tree down, but no one was on it. When they got into the kitchen, Cinderella lay there among the ashes, as usual. She had jumped down on the other side of the tree, had taken the beautiful dress to the bird on the little hazel tree and put on her grey gown.

Cinderella goes to the festival a third time

On the third day when the parents and sisters had gone away, Cinderella went once more to her mother’s grave and said to the little tree—

“Shiver and quiver, my little tree,
Silver and gold throw down over me.”

And now the bird threw down a dress which was more splendid and magnificent than any she had yet had, and the slippers were golden.

When she went to the festival in the dress, everyone was speechless and astonished. The prince danced with only with her. If any one invited her to dance, he said, “She is my partner.”

Cinderella looses her golden slipper

When evening came Cinderella wished to leave. The prince was anxious to go with her, but she escaped from him so quickly that he could not follow her.

He had however made a plan and had ordered the whole staircase to be smeared with pitch. When she ran down, her left slipper remained sticking. The prince picked it up. It was small and dainty and golden.

Next morning he went with it to the father and said to him, “No one shall be my wife but she whose foot fits in this golden slipper.”

The oldest sister tries to fit in the golden slipper

The two sisters were glad because they both had pretty feet. The oldest went with the shoe into her room and wanted to try it on. Her mother watched. She could not get her big toe into it: the shoe was too small for her.

Her mother gave her a knife and said, “Cut the big toe off; when you are the queen you will no longer need to go on foot.”

The oldest sister cut her big toe off, forced her foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain and went out to the prince. He took her on his horse as his bride and rode away with her.

They had to pass the grave of Cinderella’s mother. There, on the hazel tree, sat the two pigeons and cried,

“Turn and peep, turn and peep,
There’s blood within the shoe,
The shoe it is too small for her,
The true bride waits for you.”

He looked at her foot and saw how the blood was streaming from it. He turned his horse around and took the false bride home again. He said she was not the true one. The other sister was to put the shoe on.

The youngest sister tries to fit in the golden slipper

The youngest sister went into her chamber and got her toes safely into the shoe, but her heel was too large. So her mother gave her a knife and said, “Cut a bit off your heel; when you are queen you will have no more need to go on foot.”

She cut a bit off her heel, forced her foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain and went out to the prince. He took her on his horse as his bride and rode away with her. When they passed by the hazel tree, two little pigeons sat on it and cried,

“Turn and peep, turn and peep,
There’s blood within the shoe
The shoe it is too small for her,
The true bride waits for you.”

He looked down at her foot and saw how the blood was running out of her shoe, and how it had stained her white stocking. He turned his horse and took the false bride home again. “This also is not the right one,” he said, “don’t you have another daughter?”

“No,” said the man. “There is still a little stunted kitchen wench which my late wife left behind her, but she cannot possibly be the bride.”

The prince said he was to send her up to him, but the stepmother answered, “Oh, no, she is much too dirty, she cannot show herself!”

Cinderella tries to fit in the golden slipper

He absolutely insisted on it and Cinderella had to be called. She first washed her hands and face clean, and then went and bowed down before the prince.

He gave her the golden shoe. She seated herself on a stool, drew her foot out of the heavy wooden shoe and put it into the slipper, which fitted like a glove.

When she rose up and the prince looked at her face he recognized the beautiful young lady who had danced with him and shouted, “That is the true bride!”

The stepmother and the two sisters were terrified and became pale of rage. He took Cinderella on his horse and rode away with her. As they passed by the hazel tree, the two white doves cried—

“Turn and peep, turn and peep,
No blood is in the shoe,
The shoe is not too small for her,
The true bride rides with you,”

The two doves flew down and placed themselves on Cinderella’s shoulders, one on the right, the other on the left, and remained sitting there.

The stepsisters are punished for their wickedness

When the wedding with the prince had to be celebrated, the two false sisters came and wanted to get into favor with Cinderella and share her good fortune.

However when the betrothed couple went to church, the elder was at the right side and the younger at the left of them. The pigeons pecked out one eye of each of them. Afterwards as they came back, the elder was at the left, the younger at the right and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye of each.

And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.

Tips for Telling Cinderella

Storyteller Rudolf Roos
  • Two hundred years ago this was one of the most popular stories of Europe. It has been told in different ways in cultures all over the world.
    It might be helpful to acknowledge this at the beginning of your telling, with something like: “There are hundreds of ways people have told this story all over the world. This is how I tell it…
  • Don’t tell us Cinderella’s feelings, but paint the pictures of what is happening and we will feel it ourselves. Example: not “She was very sad.”, but “She sat down in the soft grass, next to the hazel tree. The sun was going down. She sighed and wished her mother were there to hold her in her arms.”
  • There are several rhymes that repeat throughout the story. Rhyme and rhythm are important in oral telling. You might however want to change the words more to your liking.
A reading of Cinderella

All Questions Answered

Who wrote the story Cinderella?

It was included in the first edition of their collection by the Brothers Grimm. They learned this fairy tale from a patient in a hospital. The tale however is not really written by one person and there is no definitive version of the story. It was one of the most popular tales told in Europe at that time.

When was Cinderella written?

The fairy tale was included in the first edition of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (1812). After that, they kept rewriting and changing it. However the tale existed long before the Brothers Grimm heard of it.

What is the original version of Cinderella?

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of versions of Cinderella across the world. While it is possible to pinpoint some of the older ones, there is no so-called original version.

Where does the name Cinderella come from?

Cinderella sits and sleeps close to the fireplace. She was soiled with ash and cinders, hence her nickname Cinderella.

Is there a movie of Cinderella?

Many movies have been made of this story. The Disney one from 1950 is the most famous. Disney made a remake of it in 2015, also called Cinderella.

More useful information

Fairy tales with a bird

Fairy tales with a dove

Fairy tales with a pigeon

Photo credits: Ksenia Sergeeva from Pixabay

The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

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