Last updated
Short story by Hans Christian Andersen
Calineczka VP ubt.jpeg
Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen,
Andersen's first illustrator
Wikiversity-Mooc-Icon-Further-readings.svg Text available at Wikisource
Original titleTommelise
Translator Mary Howitt
Country Denmark
Language Danish
Genre(s)Literary fairy tale
Published in Fairy Tales Told for Children. First Collection. Second Booklet. 1835. (Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Første Samling. Andet Hefte. 1835.)
Publication typeFairy tale collection
PublisherC. A. Reitzel
Media typePrint
Publication date16 December 1835
Published in English1846
Little Ida's Flowers
The Naughty Boy

Thumbelina ( /ˌθʌmbəˈlnə/ ; Danish : Tommelise) is a literary novel bedtime story fairy tale written by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published by C. A. Reitzel on 16 December 1835 in Copenhagen, Denmark, with "The Naughty Boy" and "The Travelling Companion" in the second installment of Fairy Tales Told for Children . Thumbelina is about a tiny girl and her adventures with marriage-minded toads, moles, and cockchafers. She successfully avoids their intentions before falling in love with a flower-fairy prince just her size.



A woman yearning for a child asks a witch for advice, and is presented with barley which she is told to go home and plant (in the first English translation of 1847 by Mary Howitt, the tale opens with a beggar woman giving a peasant's wife a barleycorn in exchange for food). After the barleycorn is planted and sprouts, a tiny girl named Thumbelina (Tommelise) emerges from its flower.

One night, Thumbelina, asleep in her walnut-shell cradle, is carried off by a toad who wants her as a bride for her son. With the help of friendly fish and a butterfly, Thumbelina escapes the toad and her son, and drifts on a lily pad until captured by a Cockchafer who later discards her when his friends reject her company.

Thumbelina tries to protect herself from the elements. When winter comes, she is in desperate straits. She is finally given shelter by an old field mouse and tends her dwelling in gratitude. Thumbelina sees a swallow who is injured while visiting a mole, a neighbor of the field mouse. She meets the swallow one night and finds out what happened to him. She keeps on visiting the swallow during midnight without telling the field mouse and tries to help him gain strength and she frequently spends time with him singing songs and telling him stories and listening to his stories in the winter until spring arrives. The swallow, after becoming healthy, promises that he would come to that spot again and flies away saying goodbye to Thumbelina.

At the end of winter, the mouse suggests Thumbelina marry the mole, but Thumbelina finds the prospect of being married to such a creature repulsive because he spends all his days underground and never sees the sun or sky, even though he is impressive with his knowledge of ancient history and lots of other topics. The field mouse keeps pushing Thumbelina into the marriage, insisting the mole is a good match for her. Eventually Thumbelina sees little choice but to agree, but cannot bear the thought of the mole keeping her underground and never seeing the sun.

At the last minute, Thumbelina escapes the situation by fleeing to a far land with the swallow. In a sunny field of flowers, Thumbelina meets a tiny flower-fairy prince just her size and to her liking; they eventually wed. She receives a pair of wings to accompany her husband on his travels from flower to flower, and a new name, Maia. In the end, the swallow is heartbroken once Thumbelina marries the flower-fairy prince, and flies off eventually arriving at a small house. There, he tells Thumbelina's story to a man who is implied to be Andersen himself, who chronicles the story in a book. [1]



The earliest animated version of the tale is a silent black-and-white release by director Herbert M. Dawley in 1924. [2] Lotte Reiniger released a 10-minute cinematic adaptation in 1954 featuring her "silhouette" puppets. [3]

In 1964 Soyuzmultfilm released Dyuymovochka , a half-hour Russian adaptation of the fairy tale directed by Leonid Amalrik. [4] Although the screenplay by Nikolai Erdman stayed faithful to the story, it was noted for satirical characters and dialogues (many of them turned into catchphrases). [5] Toei Animation adapted the fairy tale three times: in 1975 as an animated short, in 1978 in the feature length anime film Thumbelina, and as an episode of World Fairy Tale Series . [6] [7] [8]

In 1992, Golden Films released Thumbelina (1992), and Tom Thumb Meets Thumbelina afterwards. [9] [10] A Japanese animated series adapted the plot and made it into a movie, Thumbelina: A Magical Story (1992), released in 1993. [11]

On March 30, 1994, Warner Bros. released the animated film Thumbelina (1994), [12] directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, with Jodi Benson as the voice of Thumbelina.

The 2002 animated film The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina is loosely based on the fairy tale. [13] Mattel's Barbie: Thumbelina from 2009 was also presented as a modern retelling of the story, while its plot has little-to-nothing to do with Andersen's tale. [14]

On 2021, at the New York International Children's Film Festival, premiered the short film Tulip, a contemporary version on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale Thumbelina. Phoebe Wahl was the writer and lead character designer, as well as co-director and co-producer alongside animator and fiber-artist Andrea Love [15] .

Live action

An adaptation of the Thumbelina story directed by Barry Mahon was included as an embedded narrative in the 1972 low-budget film Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny . [16]

On June 11, 1985, a television dramatization of the tale was broadcast as the 12th episode of the anthology series Faerie Tale Theatre . The production starred Carrie Fisher. [17]


  1. Opie & Opie 1974 , pp. 221–9
  2. Dawley, Herbert M. (1924-09-27), Thumbelina (Animation, Short), Herbert M. Dawley Production, retrieved 2023-03-08
  3. "Däumlienchen". IMDb.
  4. "Российская анимация в буквах и фигурах | Фильмы | «ДЮЙМОВОЧКА»". Retrieved 2023-03-08.
  5. Petr Bagrov. Swine-herd and Stableman. From Hans Christian to Christian Hans article from Seance № 25/26, 2005 ISSN   0136-0108 (in Russian)
  6. "WORLD FAMOUS FAIRY TALE SERIES PRINCESS THUMB|Film List|TOEI ANIMATION". 2020-06-29. Archived from the original on 2020-06-29. Retrieved 2023-03-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. Serikawa, Yûgo, Oyayubi-Hime (Animation, Fantasy), Toei Animation, retrieved 2023-03-08
  8. "World Fairy Tale" Oyayubi hime (TV Episode 1995) - IMDb , retrieved 2023-03-08
  9. Higuchi, Masakazu; Namba, Chinami (1992-06-08), Thumbelina (Animation, Adventure, Family), Golden Films, Warner Bros. Animation, retrieved 2023-03-08
  10. Tom Thumb Meets Thumbelina (Video 1996) - IMDb , retrieved 2023-03-08
  11. Clements, Jonathan; Helen McCarthy (2001-09-01). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 (1st ed.). Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. p. 399. ISBN   1-880656-64-7. OCLC   47255331.
  12. "Thumbelina - Character Designs, Cornelius, Thumbelina, and Bumble Bee". SCAD Libraries. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  13. Chaika, Glenn (2002-08-06), The Adventures of Tom Thumb & Thumbelina (Animation, Family, Fantasy), Hyperion Pictures, Miramax, Philippine Animation Studio Inc., retrieved 2023-03-09
  14. Barbie Presents: Thumbelina (Video 2009) - IMDb , retrieved 2023-03-09
  15. "Tulip". Phoebe Wahl. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  16. "'Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny': Strange holiday entertainment from the 1970s|Movies & TV|". Archived from the original on 2020-06-17. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  17. "DVD Verdict Review - Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: The Complete Collection". Archived from the original on 2011-06-17.

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