The Sea Witch

Real Name


First Appearance

Eventyr, fortalte for Børn, Første Samling, Tredie Hefte (1837)

Original Publisher

C. A. Reitzel

Created by

Hans Christian Andersen


The Sea Witch is a sorceress who lives under the sea. Her abode is in a slimy creepy underwater forest, protected by raging whirlpools. Around her house are hideous half-plant and half animal polypi, which grasp anything they can. Many of these polypi hold the bones of humans and animals that drowned. Some hold ship fragments, and some hold the remains of mermaids that they have strangled. The sea witch lives in a house made of human bones, and allows large sea snakes to writhe over her, and in the mire that surrounds her house. The extent of her powers is unknown, but they do seem considerable. She gave the Little Mermaid the ability to transform into a human being, and later set a curse on her that turned her body into sea foam. For her help, she demanded a price, which was often a body part such as a tongue or hair. She mixes potions in a cauldron.

Public domain literary appearances

  • The Little Mermaid” (»Den lille Havfrue«), by Hans Christian Andersen, in Eventyr, fortalte for Børn, Første Samling, Tredie Hefte, 1837.
    • “The Mermaid,” trans. Lucie, Lady Duff‐Gordon, Bentley’s Miscellany, vol. 19, no. ?, [Apr.] 1846. (Internet Archive)
    • “The Little Mermaid,” in Danish Fairy Legends and Tales, trans. Caroline Peachey, 1846. (HathiTrust)
    • “The Little Mermaid,” trans. Charles Boner, in The Ugly Duck, and Other Tales, Francis & Co.’s Little Library: For Young Persons of Various Ages, 1854. (Internet Archive)
    • “The Little Mermaid,” in The Little Mermaid and Other Stories, trans. Robert Nisbet Bain, 1893. (HathiTrust) (Google Books)
    • “The Little Mermaid,” in Three Tales of Hans Andersen, 1910. (HathiTrust)
  • The Garden of Paradise (play), by Edward Sheldon, 1914. (Internet Archive)
    • “A New Experiment with the Fairy Play: A Scenic Revolutionist from Across the Seas Is a Big Factor in the Season’s Most Important Effort,” by Louis V. DeFoe, The Green Book Magazine, vol. 13, no. 2, Feb. 1915. (HathiTrust)

“The Little Mermaid Visits the Old Witch of the Sea,” illustration by John Leech for “The Mermaid,” Bentley’s Miscellany, Apr. 1846.

Golden Age Comic Appearances

  • Fairy Tale Parade #7

See Also

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