The Rumpelstiltskin story is well-known to people across the world from it’s inclusion in the book of Fairy Tales popularized by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century.
The story of Rumpelstiltskin originates from an old German folk fairy tale about a miller who, trying to impress a King, states that his daughter is able to spin straw into gold. The greedy King imprisons her and tells her to spin all the straw in the room into gold by morning or he will kill her.
The girl knows she cannot achieve this task, but is saved by the appearance of Rumpelstiltskin, who is described as a small dwarf or imp-like creature. He offers to spin the straw into gold in exchange for her necklace. Over the next few days, the girl is ordered to spin more and more straw into gold overnight by the King and, each time, the creature does the task for her in exchange for something of value to her. Finally, the king says that if she spins straw into gold one last time, he will marry her. With nothing left to exchange, she offers Rumplestiltskin her first-born child.
With her final task complete, she marries the king and forgets about the deal, until the birth of her first child. Rumpelstiltskin appears and demands the child. She offers him all her new-found wealth in exchange but he refuses – but he says he will let her keep the child if she can guess his name when he returns to claim the child in three days. The queen sends a loyal courtier to follow him and he watches as Rumpelstiltskin dances round a fire singing a song that reveals his name.
At the end of the three days, Rumpelstiltskin returns and the Queen triumphantly calls him by his name. He runs away, angry that he has lost his bargain. In some versions of the story, he falls to his death or tears himself in two in his frustations – in others he simply leaves and is never seen again.
Children across generations have enjoyed hearing the story of Rumpelstiltskin and it continues to be popular, being told today in a variety of ways including books, song, stage shows and even a Rumpelstiltskin movie.