Once upon a time . . . as a merchant set off for market, he asked each of

his three daughters what she would like as a present on his return. The first

daughter wanted a brocade dress, the second a pearl necklace, but the third,

whose name was Beauty, the youngest, prettiest and sweetest of them all, said

to her father:

“All I’d like is a rose you’ve picked specially for me!”

When the merchant had finished his business, he set off for home. However,

a sudden storm blew up, and his horse could hardly make headway in the howling

gale. Cold and weary, the merchant had lost all hope of reaching an inn when

he suddenly noticed a bright light shining in the middle of a wood. As he drew

near, he saw that it was a castle, bathed in light.

“I hope I’ll find shelter there for the night,” he said to himself. When he

reached the door, he saw it was open, but though he shouted, nobody came to

greet him. Plucking up courage, he went inside, still calling out to attract

attention. On a table in the main hall, a splendid dinner lay already served.

The merchant lingered, still shouting for the owner of the castle. But no one

came, and so the starving merchant sat down to a hearty meal.

Overcome by curiosity, he ventured upstairs, where the corridor led into

magnificent rooms and halls. A fire crackled in the first room and a soft bed

looked very inviting. It was now late, and the merchant could not resist. He

lay down on the bed and fell fast asleep. When he woke next morning, an

unknown hand had placed a mug of steaming coffee and some fruit by his


The merchant had breakfast and after tidying himself up, went downstairs to

thank his generous host. But, as on the evening before, there was nobody in

sight. Shaking his head in wonder at the strangeness of it all, he went

towards the garden where he had left his horse, tethered to a tree. Suddenly,

a large rose bush caught his eye.

Remembering his promise to Beauty, he bent down to pick a rose. lnstantly,

out of the rose garden, sprang a horrible beast, wearing splendid clothes. Two

bloodshot eyes, gleaming angrily, glared at him and a deep, terrifying voice

growled: “Ungrateful man! I gave you shelter, you ate at my table and slept in

my own bed, but now all the thanks I get is the theft of my favourite flowers!

I shall put you to death for this slight!” Trembling with fear, the merchant

fell on his knees before the Beast.

“Forgive me! Forgive me! Don’t kill me! I’ll do anything you say! The rose

wasn’t for me, it was for my daughter Beauty. I promised to bring her back a

rose from my journey!” The Beast dropped the paw it had clamped on the unhappy


“I shall spare your life, but on one condition, that you bring me your

daughter!” The terror-stricken merchant, faced with certain death if he did

not obey, promised that he would do so. When he reached home in tears, his

three daughters ran to greet him. After he had told them of his dreadful

adventure, Beauty put his mind at rest immediately.

“Dear father, I’d do anything for you! Don’t worry, you’ll be able to keep

your promise and save your life! Take me to the castle. I’ll stay there in

your place!” The merchant hugged his daughter.

“I never did doubt your love for me. For the moment I can only thank you

for saving my life.” So Beauty was led to the castle. The Beast, however, had

quite an unexpected greeting for the girl. Instead of menacing doom as it had

done with her father, it was surprisingly pleasant.

In the beginning, Beauty was frightened of the Beast, and shuddered at the

sight of it. Then she found that, in spite of the monster’s awful head, her

horror of it was gradually fading as time went by. She had one of the finest

rooms in the Castle, and sat for hours, embroidering in front of the fire. And

the Beast would sit, for hours on end, only a short distance away, silently

gazing at her. Then it started to say a few kind words, till in the end,

Beauty was amazed to discover that she was actually enjoying its conversation.

The days passed, and Beauty and the Beast became good friends. Then one day,

the Beast asked the girl to be his wife. .-~

Taken by surprise, Beauty did not know what to say. Marry such an ugly

monster? She would rather die! But she did not want to hurt the feelings of

one who, after all, had been kind to her. And she remembered too that she owed

it her own life as well as her father’s.

“I really can’t say yes,” she began shakily. “I’d so much like to . . .”

The Beast interrupted her with an abrupt gesture.

“I quite understand! And I’m not offended by your refusal!” Life went on as

usual, and nothing further was said. One day, the Beast presented Beauty with

a magnificent magic mirror. When Beauty peeped into it, she could see her

family, far away.

“You won’t feel so lonely now,” were the words that accompanied the gift.

Beauty stared for hours at her distant family. Then she began to feel worried.

One day, the Beast found her weeping beside the magic mirror.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, kindly as always.

“My father is gravely ill and close to dying! Oh, how I wish I could see

him again, before it’s too late!” But the Beast only shook its head.

“No! You will never leave this castle!” And off it stalked in a rage.

However, a little later, it returned and spoke solemnly to the girl._

“If you swear that you will return here in seven days time, I’ll let you go

and visit your father!” Beauty threw herself at the Beast’s feet in delight.

“I swear! I swear I will! How kind you are! You’ve made a loving daughter

so happy!” In reality, the merchant had fallen ill from a broken heart at

knowing his daughter was being kept prisoner. When he embraced her again, he

was soon on the road to recovery. Beauty stayed beside him for hours on end,

describing her life at the Castle, and explaining that the Beast was really

good and kind. The days flashed past, and at last the merchant was able to

leave his bed. He was completely well again. Beauty was happy at last.

However, she had failed to notice that seven days had gone by.

Then one night she woke from a terrible nightmare. She had dreamt that the

Beast was dying and calling for her, twisting in agony.

“Come back! Come back to me!” it was pleading. The solem promise she had

made drove her to leave home immediately.

“Hurry! Hurry, good horse!” she said, whipping her steed onwards towards

the castle, afraid that she might arrive too late. She rushed up the stairs,

calling, but there was no reply. Her heart in her mouth, Beauty ran into the

garden and there crouched the Beast, its eyes shut, as though dead. Beauty

threw herself at it and hugged it tightly.

“Don’t die! Don’t die! I’ll marry you . . .” At these words, a miracle took

place. The Beast’s ugly snout turned magically into the face of a handsome

young man.

“How I’ve been longing for this moment!” he said. “I was suffering in

silence, and couldn’t tell my frightful secret. An evil witch turned me into a

monster and only the love of a maiden willing to accept me as I was, could

transform me back into my real self. My dearest! I’ll be so happy if you’ll

marry me . . .”

The wedding took place shortly after and, from that day on, the young

Prince would have nothing but roses in his gardens. And that’s why, to this

day, the castle is known as the Castle of the Rose.


A wealthy, widowed merchant lives in a mansion with his six children, three sons and three daughters. All his daughters are very beautiful, but the youngest, Beauty, is the most lovely, as well as kind, well-read, and pure of heart; while the two elder sisters, in contrast, are wicked, selfish, vain, and spoiled. They secretly taunt Beauty and treat her more like a servant than a sister. The merchant eventually loses all of his wealth in a tempest at sea. He and his children are consequently forced to live in a small farmhouse and work for their living.

Some years later, the merchant hears that one of the trade ships he had sent off has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of its compatriots. He returns to the city to discover whether it contains anything valuable. Before leaving, he asks his children if they wish for him to bring any gifts back for them. The sons ask for weaponry and horses to hunt with, whereas his oldest daughters ask for clothing, jewels, and the finest dresses possible as they think his wealth has returned. Beauty is satisfied with the promise of a rose as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant, to his dismay, finds that his ship’s cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him penniless and unable to buy his children’s presents.

During his return, the merchant becomes lost in a forest during a storm. Seeking shelter, he enters a dazzling palace. A hidden figure opens the giant doors and silently invites him in. The merchant finds tables inside laden with food and drink, which seem to have been left for him by the palace’s invisible owner. The merchant accepts this gift and spends the night there. The next morning, as the merchant is about to leave, he sees a rose garden and recalls that Beauty had desired a rose. Upon picking the loveliest rose he can find, the merchant is confronted by a hideous “Beast” which tells him that for taking his most precious possession after accepting his hospitality, the merchant must die. The merchant begs to be set free, arguing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him give the rose to Beauty, but only if the merchant or one of his daughters will return.

The merchant is upset but accepts this condition. The Beast sends him on his way, with wealth, jewels and fine clothes for his sons and daughters, and stresses that Beauty must never know about his deal. The merchant, upon arriving home, tries to hide the secret from Beauty, but she pries it from him. Her brothers say they will go to the castle and fight the Beast, but the merchant dissuades them, saying they will stand no chance against the monster. Beauty then agrees to go to the Beast’s castle. The Beast receives her graciously and informs her that she is now mistress of the castle, and he is her servant. He gives her lavish clothing and food and carries on lengthy conversations with her. Every night, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him, only to be refused each time. After each refusal, Beauty dreams of a handsome prince who pleads with her to answer why she keeps refusing him, to which she replies that she cannot marry the Beast because she loves him only as a friend. Beauty does not make the connection between the handsome prince and the Beast and becomes convinced that the Beast is holding the prince captive somewhere in the castle. She searches and discovers multiple enchanted rooms, but never the prince from her dreams.

For several months, Beauty lives a life of luxury at the Beast’s palace, having every whim catered to by invisible servants, with no end of riches to amuse her and an endless supply of exquisite finery to wear. Eventually, she becomes homesick and begs the Beast to allow her to go see her family. He allows it on the condition that she returns exactly a week later. Beauty agrees to this and sets off for home with an enchanted mirror and ring. The mirror allows her to see what is going on back at the Beast’s castle, and the ring allows her to return to the castle in an instant when turned three times around her finger. Her older sisters are surprised to find her well fed and dressed in finery. Beauty tries to share the magnificent gowns and jewels the Beast gave her with her sisters, but they turn into rags at her sisters’ touch, and are restored to their splendour when returned to Beauty, as the Beast meant them only for her. Her sisters are envious when they hear of her happy life at the castle, and, hearing that she must return to the Beast on a certain day, beg her to stay another day, even putting onion in their eyes to make it appear as though they are weeping. They hope that the Beast will be angry with Beauty for breaking her promise and eat her alive. Beauty’s heart is moved by her sisters’ false show of love, and she agrees to stay.

Illustration by Warwick Goble.

Beauty begins to feel guilty about breaking her promise to the Beast and uses the mirror to see him back at the castle. She is horrified to discover that the Beast is lying half-dead from heartbreak near the rose bushes from which her father plucked the rose, and she immediately uses the ring to return to the Beast.

Beauty weeps over the Beast, saying that she loves him. When her tears strike him, the Beast is transformed into the handsome prince from Beauty’s dreams. The Prince informs her that long ago a fairy turned him into a hideous beast after he refused to let her in from the rain and that only by finding true love, despite his ugliness, could the curse be broken. He and Beauty are married and they live happily ever after together.


Anne Anderson (1874-1931)

Fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast can be traced back thousands of years, according to researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon.

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

And a folk tale called The Smith And The Devil, about a blacksmith selling his soul in a pact with the Devil in order to gain supernatural abilities, was estimated to go back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age.

Once upon a time there lived a wealthy merchant, who had three beautiful daughters. Once he decided to do business overseas. He called for the daughters and asked what gifts should he bring them. The eldest asked for a golden tiara adorned with precious gems that sparkled brightly, and the second wanted a crystal mirror which always showed the person’s reflection as young and beautiful. The merchant knew these would be difficult to obtain, but within his means. The youngest, named Nastenka (a diminutive form of the given name Anastasia), asked for the most beautiful scarlet flower in the world, which she had seen in a dream. The merchant did not know where he could find such a flower, but promised not to disappoint.

Everything went well. The merchant bought all gifts, except for the scarlet flower. He saw many scarlet flowers, but not the most beautiful one. On the way home he was attacked by robbers, fled into the woods and became lost. When he awoke the next morning he saw a splendid palace “in flame, silver and gold”. He walked inside, marveling at the splendor, but the palace was seemingly empty. Spread before him was a luxurious feast, and he sat down and ate. When he walked out to the garden he saw the most beautiful scarlet flower, and knew it was the one his daughter desired. Upon picking it, the terrible Beast of the Forest leapt out and confronted the merchant, asking him why he dared pick the scarlet flower, the one joy of the beast’s life. The beast demanded that the merchant repay him and forfeit his life. The merchant begged for mercy and to be returned to his daughters. The beast allowed this on the one condition that within the next three days one of his daughters would willingly take her father’s place and live with the beast, or the merchant’s life would be forfeit. The beast gave the merchant a ring, and the girl that put it on the littlest finger of her right hand would be transported to the palace. Then the beast magically transported the merchant home, with all his wealth and treasures restored.

The merchant explained what happened to his three daughters. The eldest two believed the youngest should go, since it was her present that caused this disaster. The youngest daughter loved her father so, so she willingly went to live with the beast. Nastenka lived luxuriously with the beast, who granted her every desire, fed her delicious food and gave her rich jewels and clothing, yet never revealed himself to her for fear of upsetting her. However Nastenka became fond of the beast and asked to see him. When he finally revealed himself to her, she was overcome with fear but controlled herself, and apologized to the beast for upsetting him. When Nastenka had a dream that her father was ill, the Beast let her visit him. However, he said that she must come back in three days, otherwise he would perish, since his love for her was so great he loved her more than himself, and could not bear to be apart from her.

Nastenka’s visit to her father revived his spirits, but her sisters resented the wealth she lived in. They tried to talk her out of returning to the Beast, but Nastenka could not be so cruel to her kind host. The elder sisters put the clocks back and closed the windows, to trick Nastenka. When Nastenka felt that something had been wrong and came back to the Monster’s palace, he lay dying near the scarlet flower. Nastenka rushed to his side, took him in her arms, and cried that she loved him more than herself, that he was her true love. All of a sudden thunder boomed, and Nastenka was transported to a golden throne next to a handsome prince. The handsome prince explained that he was the Beast, cursed by a witch who was fighting his father, a mighty king. To break the curse, a maiden had to fall in love with him in his monstrous form. The merchant gave his blessing to the young couple, who lived happily ever after