The Ugly Duckling

Fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen

"The Ugly Duckling" (Danish: Den grimme ælling) is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen lavished great care on this story, spending a year perfecting it.[1] It was first published in 1844 with "The Angel", "The Sweethearts", and "The Nightingale" in New Fairy Tales. The critics liked these stories. Andersen considered the story "a reflection of my own life." The moral of the tale: "it does not matter if you were born in a duck yard if you have lain in a swan's egg."[2] The tale has been adapted to various media such as animated movies.

"The Ugly Duckling"
Duckling 03.jpg
AuthorHans Christian Andersen
TranslatorMary Howitt
Charles Boner
Genre(s)Literary fairy tale
Publication typeFairy tale collection
PublisherC. A. Reitzel
Publication date1844


A mother duck hatches six pretty little ducklings. A seventh bird is hatched. He is homely. The other ducks abuse him. He runs away. He is given a home by an old woman. Her cat and hen do not like him. He runs away again. Winter comes and a kind farmer gives him a home. The little bird almost dies. Spring comes. The "ugly duckling" has grown into a beautiful swan. The other swans welcome him as their own. They bow to him. He is happy for the first time in his life.


  1. Wullschlager, pp. 213, 230
  2. Frank, Diane and Jeffrey. 2006. The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen. Duke University Press.


  • Wullschlager, Jackie. 2000. Hans Christian Andersen. Knopf.