First published in Great Britain by Faber & Faber, 1975
|"The fairies came to the feast and at the end they gave gifts to the child"|
|"even the fire burning in the hearth fell asleep"|
Errol Le Cain
Errol Le Cain was born March 5, 1941 in Singapore and brought up there, son of the first non-British Commissioner of Police. He had no formal art education, but his artistic talent was nurtured from the time he was a toddler. During the war years his family lived in Agra, India. He made his first 8 mm animated film, The Enchanted Mouse, at the age of 11. In 1958, at the age of only seventeen, he moved to London to pursue a career in animation. Working in Richard Williams’ studio, Errol was an important part of several films that had animation sequences including Casino Royale. (Richard Williams won an Oscar for Who Killed Roger Rabbit) Mr. Le Cain then took a year off to complete his first illustrated children’s book King Arthur's Sword. His body of work is remarkable, and includes designs in one of the best animated movies ever, The Thief and the Cobbler.
In 1984, for his illustrations in Hiawatha's Childhood, he was awarded the Kate Greenaway medal (which is the highest award in England for illustration in a children's book). He passed away in January of 1989.
(Based on the biography at errollecainlegacy.com)
Here is a version of the tale of the sleeping beauty that stays close to the original German and is similar to the version used in the picture book Thorn Rose
|The wise women journey to the celebration|
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
In past times there were a king and a queen, who said every day, "Oh, if only we had a child!" but they never received one.
Then it happened one day while the queen was sitting in her bath, that a frog crept out of the water onto the ground and said to her, "Your wish shall be fulfilled, and before a year passes you will bring a daughter into the world."
What the frog said did happen, and the queen gave birth to a girl who was so beautiful that the king could not contain himself for joy, and he ordered a great celebration. He invited not only his relatives, friends, and acquaintances, but also the wise women so that they would be kindly disposed toward the child. There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but because he had only twelve golden plates from which they were to eat, one of them had to remain at home.
The feast was celebrated with great splendor, and at its conclusion the wise women presented the child with their magic gifts. The one gave her virtue, the second one beauty, the third one wealth, and so on with everything that one could wish for on earth.
The eleventh one had just pronounced her blessing when the thirteenth one suddenly walked in. She wanted to avenge herself for not having been invited, and without greeting anyone or even looking at them she cried out with a loud voice, "In the princess's fifteenth year she shall prick herself with a spindle and fall over dead." And without saying another word she turned around and left the hall.
Everyone was horrified, and the twelfth wise woman, who had not yet offered her wish, stepped foreward. Because she was unable to undo the wicked wish, but only to soften it, she said, "It shall not be her death. The princess will only fall into a hundred-year deep sleep."
The king, wanting to rescue his dear child, issued an order that all spindles in the entire kingdom should be burned. The wise women's gifts were all fulfilled on the girl, for she was so beautiful, well behaved, friendly, and intelligent that everyone who saw her had to love her.
Now it happened that on the day when she turned fifteen years of age the king and the queen were not at home, and the girl was all alone in the castle. She walked around from one place to the next, looking into rooms and chambers as her heart desired. Finally she came to an old tower. She climbed up the narrow, winding stairs and arrived at a small door. In the lock there was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open. There in a small room sat an old woman with a spindle busily spinning her flax.
"Good day, old woman," said the princess. "What are you doing there?"
"I am spinning," said the old woman, nodding her head.
"What is that thing that is so merrily bouncing about?" asked the girl, taking hold of the spindle, for she too wanted to spin.
She had no sooner touched the spindle when the magic curse was fulfilled, and she pricked herself in the finger. The instant that she felt the prick she fell onto a bed that was standing there, and she lay there in a deep sleep. And this sleep spread throughout the entire castle. The king and queen, who had just returned home, walked into the hall and began falling asleep, and all of their attendants as well. The horses fell asleep in their stalls, the dogs in the courtyard, the pigeons on the roof, the flies on the walls, and even the fire on the hearth flickered, stopped moving, and fell asleep. The roast stopped sizzling. The cook, who was about to pull kitchen boy's hair for having done something wrong, let him loose and fell asleep. The wind stopped blowing, and outside the castle not a leaf was stirring in the trees.
Round about the castle a thorn hedge began to grow, and every year it became higher, until it finally surrounded and covered the entire castle. Finally nothing at all could be seen of it, not even the flag on the roof.
A legend circulated throughout the land about the beautiful sleeping Little Brier-Rose, for so the princess was called. Legends also told that from time to time princes came, wanting to force their way through the hedge into the castle. However, they did not succeed, for the thorns held firmly together, as though they had hands, and the young men became stuck in them, could not free themselves, and died miserably.
Many long, long years later, once again a prince came to the country. He heard an old man telling about the thorn hedge. It was said that there was a castle behind it, in which a beautiful princess named Little Brier-Rose had been asleep for a hundred years, and with her the king and the queen and all the royal attendants were sleeping. He also knew from his grandfather that many princes had come and tried to penetrate the thorn hedge, but they had become stuck in it and died a sorrowful death.
Then the young man said, "I am not afraid. I will go there and see the beautiful Little Brier-Rose."
However much the good old man tried to dissuade him, the prince would not listen to his words.
The hundred years had just passed, and the day had come when Little Brier-Rose was to awaken. When the prince approached the thorn hedge, it was nothing but large, beautiful flowers that separated by themselves, allowing him to pass through without harm, but then behind him closed back into a hedge.
In the courtyard he saw the horses and spotted hunting dogs lying there asleep, and on the roof the pigeons, perched with their little heads tucked under they wings. When he walked inside the flies were asleep on the wall, the cook in the kitchen was still holding up his hand as if he wanted to grab the boy, and the maid was sitting in front of the black chicken that was supposed to be plucked. He walked further and saw all the attendants lying asleep in the hall, and above them near the throne the king and the queen were lying. He walked on still further, and it was so quiet that he could hear his own breath. Finally he came to the tower and opened the door to the little room where Little Brier-Rose was sleeping.
There she lay and was so beautiful that he could not take his eyes off her. He bent over and gave her a kiss. When he touched her with the kiss Little Brier-Rose opened her eyes, awoke, and looked at him kindly.
They went downstairs together, and the king awoke, and the queen, and all the royal attendants, and they looked at one another in amazement. The horses in the courtyard stood up and shook themselves. The hunting dogs jumped and wagged their tails. The pigeons on the roof pulled their little heads out from beneath their wings, looked around, and flew into the field. The flies on the walls crept about again. The fire in the kitchen rose up, broke into flames, and cooked the food. The roast began to sizzle once again. The cook boxed the boy's ears, causing him to cry, and the maid finished plucking the chicken.
And then the prince's marriage to Little Brier-Rose was celebrated with great splendor,
to the end of their days.
- Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Dornröschen, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, (Children's and Household Tales), no. 50.
- The Grimms' source: Marie Hassenpflug (1788-1856).
- Translated by D. L. Ashliman. © 2002-2005. Found at www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts
- The Grimms included this tale in the first edition of their Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812).
Illustrations by Errol Le Cain, "The wise women journey to the celebration" is a detail from the cover art for Thorn Rose. The picture of the princess on the staircase is used as a frontispiece in the paperback edition that I own of Thorn Rose, published by Penguin Books in a Picture Puffin, 1977.
more picture books by Errol Le Cain