The Electronic British Library Journal (2002)
The publication in 1697 of Charles Perrault’s Histoires ou contes du temps passé, better known by their subtitle of Contes de ma mère L’Oye, was to prove a seminal event in the history of children’s literature. Often assumed subsequently to be folk tales, these stories were, in fact, the product of a sophisticated French literary tradition. This article explores the circumstances of Perrault’s life that led to the writing of such famous stories as `Sleeping Beauty’, `Little Red Riding Hood’ and `Cinderella’ and details the publication history of the Contes in both France and England. Particular emphasis is paid to `Puss in Boots’. The literary sources of this tale are examined and a selection given from illustrations to nineteenth-century English editions of it held by the British Library.