On Facebook I follow an account called The 80s Magazine which simply posts up photos of things that you are bound to remember if you were a child in the 80s like I was. It never fails to make me smile when I see all those reminders of my own childhood, especially as I keep seeing Ladybird books pop up on there. Now, most of the titles I see come from the learning to read r fiction series, in particular series 606D which was called Well Loved Tales, and that title sums up the books in it rather well.
From classics like Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk through to Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast these were stories that really stood the test of time. My daughter even reads versions of most of them at school now.
The Princess and the Pea is a story that I remember clearly from my own childhood. A Prince wants to fall in love and marry a real princess. Obviously. But all the princesses he meets have something wrong with them. Heck, one is even “too gay”. He can’t possibly fall in love with her. He is left all sad thinking that he’ll never marry a real princess.
Then one night there is a horrible storm and in the middle of the night a young girl knocks at the castle door. The old king answers the door and sees a soaking wet girl stood in front of him. He ushers her in and the only think she can manage to say is “I am a real princess”. An obvious thing to say when you’re freezing cold, soaking wet and have been out in a storm!
The old Queen doesn’t believe her though and whilst the servants organise a hot bath and clean clothes for the girl, she orders for all the bed clothes to be taken off the bed and she places a pea underneath the mattress. She then orders for more mattresses to be piled on top of the original one and this continues until there are at least twenty mattresses on the bed. On top of them go twenty feather beds. The Queen then declares that this will prove if she is a real princess or not.
The next morning the old Queen goes to wake the girl, but when she asks how she slept the answer is “dreadfully”. The girl says that she could feel something hard in her bed and as a result she is black and blue all over. The old queen knows that only a real princess could be so tender that they could feel a pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds.
Hey presto – the prince has found a real princess and they get married and live happily ever after! If only real life were that simple eh?
As with many of the Well Loved Tales books from this era, the story is told by Vera Southgate and the wonderful illustrations are by Eric Winter. I remember clearly so many of the pictures from reading this as a child, and from what I’ve read it seems so many other people from my generation do too. It’s amazing to think how many of us must have sat and read the same books and loved them so much as to remember them clearly and fondly all these years later. A real testament to the power of Ladybird books.
If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thank you!