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1001 Stories Collection

The Frog Prince

1001 The Frog Prince David Clode
Added on 03rd November 2020

Oral tradition European folktale

Europe Animals Folk and fairy tales Magic

A princess makes a promise to a frog.


A princess loses her precious golden ball in a well. A frog says he will get it for her if she will let him be her companion and take him back to the palace. She has no intention of keeping her side of the bargain but her father insists and finally she discovers that the frog is not what he seems.

Why we chose it

This is one of the best known fairy tales and one of the best known animal transformation stories. The idea of having to kiss a frog to find your true love has become part of popular culture – although the kiss not how the frog transforms in the original Grimm version.

Where it came from

The Frog King appears in the Brothers Grimm first edition of fairy tales in 1812 and they refer to it as one of the oldest stories in their collection. It was also the first story in subsequent editions published during their lifetime. In the Grimm story the princess doesn’t kiss the frog but grows angry with him and flings him at a wall, at which point he becomes a prince. In some versions she chops his head off and in others he simply sleeps on the pillow beside her. The Grimm story also includes the character of Iron Heinrich, the prince’s servant who is so broken hearted at his master’s disappearance that he binds his heart with iron bands. When he is reunited with the prince at the end of the story, the bands break with loud cracks.

Where it went next

The story was translated into English later in the nineteenth century and has appeared in a number of anthologies of fairy tales over the years, including collections by Joseph Jacobs and Katharine Briggs. The Frog King or Iron Heinrich is the first story in Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales. Stevie Smith wrote a poem, The Frog Prince, imagining the feelings of the frog. In the film Shrek 2 King Harold is revealed to be a frog prince.

Associated stories

The Brothers Grimm collected and wrote down many of the best known fairy tales including Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Cap (Little Red Riding Hood), Ashenputtel (Cinderella), Rumplestiltskin, Rapunzel and Snow White.

Folk and fairy tales are full of animal transformations, often princes as in East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Beauty and the Beast and The Black Bull of Norroway but sometimes princesses as in the Russian story The Frog Princess.

Added on 03rd November 2020

Oral tradition European folktale

Europe Animals Folk and fairy tales Magic