One of Gardner's top ten fairy tales, as told to the Guardian:
CinderellaRead about the other entries on the list.
The story of Cinderella is about a thousand years old and originated in China. It was at first an orally told story and its many incarnations took years to reach the shores of England. The shoe and the size of the shoe are to do with the binding of Chinese women's feet and it was a story never intended for girls younger than twelve. In one of its many versions Cinderella's mother, the Queen, tells the King on her deathbed that he may marry again if he can find a woman as beautiful as she, and as long her finger fits her ring. The King searches his land and finding no one of that description except his daughter, decides to marry her. Cinderella runs away to the house of the merchant where begins the story as we know it today. The story has great elasticity and has been used and will be used again and again. Perhaps one of its greatest retellings is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.