Real Name

Tommelise (Thumbelina), later Maia

First Appearance

Fairy Tales Told for Children II (16 December 1835)

Original Publisher

C. A. Reitzel

Created by

Hans Christian Andersen


The tale opens with a beggar woman giving a peasant's wife a barleycorn in exchange for food. Once planted, a tiny girl, Thumbelina, emerges from its flower. One night, Thumbelina, asleep in her walnut-shell cradle, is carried off by a toad who wants the miniature maiden as a bride for her son. With the help of some friendly fish and a butterfly, Thumbelina escapes the toad and her son, and drifts on a lily pad until captured by a cockchafer. The insect discards her when his friends reject her company. Thumbelina tries to protect herself from the elements, but when winter comes, she is in desperate straits. She is finally given shelter by an old field mouse and tends her dwelling in gratitude. The mouse suggests Thumbelina marry her neighbor, a mole, but Thumbelina finds repulsive the prospect of being married to such a creature because he spent all his days underground and never saw the sun or sky. She escapes the situation by fleeing to a far land with a swallow she nursed back to health during the winter. In a sunny field of flowers, Thumbelina meets a tiny flower-fairy prince just her size and to her liking, and they 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 original version of the story, a bluebird had been viewing Thumbelina's story since the beginning and had been in love with her since. In the end, the bird is heartbroken once Thumbelina marries the flower prince, and flies off, eventually arriving at a small house. There, he tells Thumbelina's story to a man who is implied to be Hans Christian Andersen himself, who chronicles the story in a book.


Public Domain Appearances

  • Literary:
    • Fairy Tales Told for Children (1835)
  • Comics:
    • Calling All Kids #9
    • Fairy Tale Parade #1


  • Although the character is most well-known in English as Thumbelina, some translations have opted to keep her original Danish name, Tommelise.

See Also

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