Josefine Ottesen
  prize-winning Danish author
Presentation > Books > Fables > Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time

Høst & Søn, 2009

"Once upon a time ..." 
This is a collection of my very first fairy tales in a
new edition, wonderfully illustrated by Naja Schønemann.
It contains the following titles:

The Boy and the Morning Star
The Trees of Life
The Peacock Who Wanted To Sing
Princess Morningbloom and the Lindorm
The Young Weaver Girl

Princess Morningbloom and the Lindorm has its own page above under Fables.

Extract from The Trees of Life
Extract from The Young Weaver Girl
Author's Comments

Back to the top

Extract from The Trees of Life

… Sun and Twilight each had their own tree of course. The day the children were born, the trees were planted side by side in the large park around the castle. They stood here, swaying in the wind, growing taller and taller in line with the increasing love the two children got and gave.
Twilight and Sun grew up together just like the trees. They played together all day and, in the evening when they had to say goodnight to each other, they were sad because it was so long until it would be morning once more.
And that's how it continued right up to the day they turned 11. They celebrated their birthday in the park but in the middle of the party, it suddenly went completely dark and a violent wind howled through the park. Sun and Twilight grabbed hold of each other, but the blast tore at them so powerfully that, in the end, they had to let go. The wind dropped off again just as quickly as the storm had arisen, but when it was light again, Sun had disappeared. They searched for him for many hours but in the end, they had to give up. He was gone.

Back to the top

Extract from The Young Weaver Girl

Once upon a time, there was a famous Emperor who had everything. He had won countless wars and built glorious palaces; he owned the greatest art treasures in the world; and at his palace were held festivities, the like of which had never been seen. He had made love to a thousand women and no-one was as wealthy as him. But one beautiful spring evening, during a wonderful party, he was suddenly struck down with melancholy. Without really knowing what he was doing, he stopped the music and sent all his guests home.
Once everything had become quiet around him, the Emperor sat on his throne and wept.
That night, the Emperor locked himself into his sleeping chambers and refused to talk to anyone for many, many days. He wept and sighed day and night, because life felt so meaningless.
He just couldn't understand why he had ever been so happy about winning wars, building palaces, collecting works of art, throwing parties and making love to women. All of this now felt totally trivial and empty and the Emperor wept like a little child with sorrow at his wasted life.

At sunset one evening, someone knocked firmly on his window. The despondent Emperor heard it well enough, but he had no wish to talk to anyone ….

Back to the top

Author’s comments:

These fairy tales are some of the first things I ever wrote. I was in my early twenties and writing just for fun. Back then I had no idea I would one day earn my living as an author. I have always read a lot of fairy tales and, like many others, am very fond of Hans Christian Andersen. This can certainly be seen in these stories, which I have now had the opportunity of revising thirty years later. They have all been published before, but in this revision they have been tightened up a bit, and here and there I have had to change the storylines a little so that they hold together better now – I have after all become a better “carpenter of tales” since then, fortunately.
I am really happy to be able to publish them again, because they are all stories that mean a lot to me personally – and that is certainly not lessened by the fact that this edition is adorably illustrated by my daughter, Naja Shønemann, who is now nearly the same age as I was when I wrote them.