Archive for January, 2011


The story of Thumbling, as told by the Grimm brothers, is a tale of a couple that very much wanted a child and said that they wouldn’t even mind if he was no larger than a thumb. Six months later the wife gives birth to a thumb sized child and names him Thumbling. There are several stories of thumb sized (or smaller!) children in fairy tales. The most famous in recent times being Thumbelina, written by Hans Christian Anderson and animated into a movie in 1994. Another would be the story of Tom Thumb, the first written fairy tale in England, published in 1621, with mentions in other works that predate that by another century at least. His multiple and colorful adventures are as famous as his ties to the Arthurian legend. The Grimm’s version is not as well known even though there are sources that claim their version predates them all.

In the Grimm version of the tale, a boy the size of a thumb is born and the parents swear to love him always. As he grows (in maturity, but alas not very much in stature) he decides he wants to help his father with his work. He tells him that he will bring a work cart with horse to his father in the woods where he is cutting up firewood. The boy has his mother bridle the horse and then climbs into the horse’s ear where he sits and whispers to the horse telling him where to go. On the way to his father two men see a horse and cart but no man guiding it and hear a voice that seems to come from no where talking to the horse. They follow the cart and find the father in the woods helping his son out of the horse’s ear. The men are amazed and ask if they can buy Thumbling as they think they can get a lot of money showing off a child like that at a fair. The father refuses but Thumbling gets him to change his mind. They pay for the boy and he travels with them until nightfall and then run and hides from them down a mouse hole where they cannot follow. Eventually the men must give up and go home, denying them their chance to turn the boy into a freak show for money.

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