The Three Little Pigs
The wolf blows down the straw house in a 1904 adaptation of the story. Illustration by Leonard Leslie Brooke.
Folk tale
NameThe Three Little Pigs
Aarne–Thompson grouping124

"The Three Little Pigs" is a fable about three pigs who build three houses of different materials. A Big Bad Wolf blows down the first two pigs' houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig's house, made of bricks. Printed versions date back to the 1840s, but the story is thought to be much older. The earliest version takes place in Dartmoor with three pixies and a fox before its best known version appears in English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs in 1890, with Jacobs crediting James Halliwell-Phillipps as the source.

The phrases used in the story, and the various morals drawn from it, have become embedded in Western culture. Many versions of The Three Little Pigs have been recreated and modified over the years, sometimes making the wolf a kind character. It is a type B124[1] folktale in the Aarne–Thompson classification system.

Traditional versions

"The Three Little Pigs" was included in The Nursery Rhymes of England (London and New York, c.1886), by James Halliwell-Phillipps.[2] The story in its arguably best-known form appeared in English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, first published on June 19, 1890, and crediting Halliwell as his source.[3] The earliest published version of the story is from Dartmoor, Devon, England in 1853, and has three little pixies and a fox in place of the three pigs and a wolf. The first pixy had a wooden house:

"Let me in, let me in", said the fox.
”I won’t”, was the pixy's answer; ”and the door is fastened.”[4]

Illustration from J. Jacobs, English Fairy Tales (New York, 1895)
Illustration from J. Jacobs, English Fairy Tales (New York, 1895)

The story begins with the title characters being sent out into the world by their mother, to "seek out their fortune". The first little pig builds a house of straw, but a wolf blows it down and devours him. The second little pig builds a house of sticks, which the wolf also blows down, though with more blows and the second little pig is also devoured. Each exchange between wolf and pig features ringing proverbial phrases, namely:

"Little pig, little pig, let me come in."
"No, not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin."
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in."[5]

The third little pig builds a house of bricks, which the wolf fails to blow down. He then attempts to trick the pig out of the house by asking to meet him at several places, but he is outwitted each time. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, where upon the pig who owns the brick house lights a pot of water on the fireplace. The wolf falls in and is boiled to death.

Other versions

In some versions, the first and second little pigs are not eaten by the wolf after he demolishes their homes but instead runs to their brother's/sister's house, who originally had to take care of the two other pigs and build a brick house in a few versions. Most of these versions omit any attempts by the wolf to meet the third pig out of the house after his failed attempt to blow the house in. After the wolf goes down the chimney he either dies like in the original, runs away and never returns to eat the three little pigs or in some versions the wolf faints after trying to blow down the brick house and all three of the pigs survive in either case.

The story uses the literary rule of three, expressed in this case as a "contrasting three", as the third pig's brick house turns out to be the only one which is adequate to withstand the wolf.[6] Variations of the tale appeared in Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings in 1881. The story also made an appearance in Nights with Uncle Remus in 1883, both by Joel Chandler Harris, in which the pigs were replaced by Brer Rabbit. Andrew Lang included it in The Green Fairy Book, published in 1892, but did not cite his source. In contrast to Jacobs's version, which left the pigs nameless, Lang's retelling cast the pigs as Browny, Whitey, and Blacky. It also set itself apart by exploring each pig's character and detailing the interaction between them. The antagonist of this version is a fox, not a wolf. The pigs' houses are made either of mud, cabbage, or brick. Blacky, the third pig, rescues his brother and sister from the fox's den after the fox has been defeated.

Later adaptations

Animated shorts

Animated features




See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-10-06. Retrieved 2018-08-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Ashliman, Professor D. L. "Three Little Pigs and other folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 124". Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b Tatar, Maria (2002). The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 206–211. ISBN 978-0-393-05163-6.
  4. ^ English Forests and Forest Trees: Historical, Legendary, and Descriptive (London: Ingram, Cooke, and Company, 1853), pp. 189-90
  5. ^ Jacobs, Joseph (1890). English Fairy Tales. Oxford University. p. 69.
  6. ^ Booker, Christopher (2005). "The Rule of Three". The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 230–231.
  7. ^ "Big Bad Wolf, The (film)". D23. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Three Little Wolves (film)". D23. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Practical Pig, The (film)". D23. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Thrifty Pig, The (film)". D23. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Jim Henson Company press release. January 18, 2008.
  13. ^ Waldman, Steven (November 1996). "In search of the real three little pigs - different versions of the story 'The Three Little Pigs'". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (May 9, 2018). "'Tell Me A Story': Billy Magnussen To Star In CBS All Access Thriller Series; Liz Friedlander To Direct". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 10, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  15. ^ "Story Of The Three Little Pigs (Free) | SooperBooks© [2019 Award-winners]". Sooper Books. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  16. ^ "De 3 Biggetjes* - Studio 100 Cd-Collectie 3/10 - Het Beste Van De 3 Biggetjes !". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  17. ^ " | De 3 Biggetjes, Various | CD (album) | Muziek" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2018-11-21.