List of Most Popular Fables of All Time and Their Authors - Owlcation - Education
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List of Most Popular Fables of All Time and Their Authors

Tolovaj is a small publishing house that specializes in children's literature. We especially love to explore fairy tales.

A Fable Illustration by Walter Crane

A Fable Illustration by Walter Crane

Popular Fabulists From Around the World

When someone asks me to define a fable, one of my favorite answers (courtesy of Gilbert Keith Chesterton) is that "a fable can't be good with a human in it and a fairy tale can't be good without one." If you're searching for a list of famous fabulists (authors of fables) and tales from around the world, I've included them below!

A sampling of popular fabulists:

  • Aesop
  • Jean de La Fontaine
  • Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Joel Chandler Harris
  • South African folk tales
  • Panchatantra stories
  • Fables of Bidpai
  • Jataka Tales
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • John Gay
  • Ivan Kriloff
  • George Ade
  • Ambrose Bierce
Velazque's Imagined Portrait of Aesop

Velazque's Imagined Portrait of Aesop

Aesop

Aesop was supposedly a slave from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, or Ethiopia. No one is certain he ever existed, and we know now that it was Phaedrus—not Aesop—who wrote the famous fables. Nevertheless, the written works are an essential part of the literary tradition, and no list of fabulists would be complete without Aesop.

Aesop's Fables contains timeless messages and morals that teach and inspire readers. They're relatively short, so you can easily read them to pass the time. Many everyday phrases such as 'sour grapes,' 'borrowed feathers,' and 'lion's share' come from this collection of wisdom stories. You can read the entire collection for free on Kindle or online. Enjoy!

Have you heard of Guy Wetmore Carryl? He was an American poet, humorist, and one of the hundreds of talented writers who used Aesop's material to make new stories with amusing twists and surprising interpretations.

Tortoise and Hare | An Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Tortoise and Hare | An Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Jean de La Fontaine

A friend and contemporary of Moliere, Jean de La Fontaine was one of the best French poets of the 17th century—and perhaps the first real master of his language. He experienced many personal and business troubles, but he never lacked patronage for his literary ventures.

His fables are influenced by Aesop and Boccaccio, and he wrote with an adult audience in mind. His fresh narration style and skillful character development attract a broad audience. You can read Jean de La Fontaine's fables online.

Portrait of Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian

Portrait of Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian

Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian

Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian was an 18th-century poet, translator, playwright, and fabulist of noble origin who was second only to Jean de La Fontaine. He died at a young age, so you can only find a little over 100 Florian fables in existence today.

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book is Rudyard Kipling's most famous work, which features stories with strong moral tones and animals with human characteristics. Through it, he pays homage to his childhood in India, where he also returned later in his life. He received a Noble Prize for his work at the age of 42, making him the youngest Nobel laureate in literature.

Kipling also wrote and illustrated Just so Stories for Little Children, a book where he shares imaginative answers to questions kids ask about animals. You can get a taste for the stories with the titles below:

  • How the Whale Got His Throat
  • How the Camel Got His Hump
  • How the Leopard Got His Spots
Joel Chandler Harris

Joel Chandler Harris

Joel Chandler Harris

Joel Chandler Harris wrote Uncle Remus stories, a collection of many fables. In several collections, he featured an intriguing character named Br'er (Brother) Rabbit, who uses his wits to fight stronger opponents.

Br'er Rabbit, also called Breer Rabbit, is a trickster with questionable morals. He isn't always successful in his endeavors, but he quickly became a symbol of the fight against prominent opponents. Some people suggest he represents enslaved Africans, but this can't be true because the fables originated not only in various parts of Africa but also in Cherokee oral tradition. Many Uncle Remus tales are considered politically incorrect by today's standard.

Wisdom Stories From Africa

South-African Folk-Tales present many animal fables packed with ancient wisdom and a surprisingly fresh worldview. A few stories include:

  • The Monkey's Fiddle
  • The Tiger, the Ram, and the Jackal
  • The Story of Lion and Little Jackal
  • Crocodile's Treason
  • The Judgement of Baboon
fables-

Panchatantra Stories

Existing since ancient Indian times, one of the oldest-known fable collections is called Panchatantra. They were written in Sanskrit and have inspired many tales and collections.

The Panchatantra fables are typically attributed to Vishnu Sharma, a wise man solicited by the king to write stories that taught his children how to run a kingdom.The fables are divided into five sections to help people (both nobility and common folk) succeed in their lives.

Fables of Bidpai

Fables of Bidpai

Fables of Bidpai (Pilpay)

The Fables of Bidpai, or the Fables of Pilpay, is a collection of Arabic tales based on the Panchatantra. The main characters are Pilpay (Bidpai), Dabschelim, Kalilah, and Dimnah. The stories are narrated in a relatively complicated frame format typical of an Oriental narration style. However, you can essentially break down the stories into short fables with morals such as:

  • Don't trust flatterers.
  • Bad deeds are punished.
  • Don't trust your enemies.
fables-

Jataka Tales

Jataka Tales is a collection of more than 500 fables that expounds on specific virtues. The main character (animal or human) is one of the incarnations of Buddha before he became the Enlightened One. Jataka in Sanskrit means "Born" and is related to Buddha's many births.

Some of these stories date from the fourth century before Jesus Christ and can be found in Panchantantra, other collections (ex. Aesop's Fables), and various adaptations that have become part of the world's literary heritage.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Source: Wikipedia.org, PD licence

Source: Wikipedia.org, PD licence

Leonardo da Vinci

While people think mainly of his inventions and scientific work, Leonardo da Vinci wrote and illustrated many fables during his lifetime! If you want to learn more about this lesser-known aspect of his genius, you can read his fables online.

Portrait of John Gay

Portrait of John Gay

John Gay

John Gay was an 18th-century poet and writer. Like many of his contemporaries, he received financial support for his work from many nobles. His works often mocked societal relationships, and he enjoyed targeting the nobility. His most famous work is The Beggar's Opera.

In 1727, John Gay wrote an educational book for then six-year-old Prince William to make learning entertaining, which you can read in his Fifty-One Fables in Verse.

Ivan Kriloff (Ivan Krylov)

Ivan Kriloff (Ivan Krylov)

Ivan Kriloff

Ivan Kriloff, or Ivan Krylov, was a Russian fabulist who wrote many literary works. He best demonstrated his wisdom and humor in a collection of fables.

George Ade

George Ade

George Ade

We can't compose a decent list of fabulists without George Ade, an American writer and columnist. Due to his ironic messages and humorous morals, he is sometimes called America's first humorist.

George Ade's specialty concerned tales of ordinary lives of ordinary people. His great literary success brought him great wealth, which he donated to several institutions. You can find two collections of his below:

A Portrait of Ambrose Bierce

A Portrait of Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce

If you're looking for something extraordinary, consider Ambrose Bierce's Fantastic Fables. Bierce was a soldier, artist, journalist, satirist, and fabulist. He wrote many interesting works you can find in the public domain. His fables are unique because the moral is often lost in his twisted humor.

No one knows when or how Ambrose Bierce died. When he was seventy-one years old, he joined Pancho Villa's army as an observer of the Mexican revolution. In December of 1913, he vanished without a trace.

More Fabulists From Around the World

If you want to delve more into the world of fables and other authors who wrote them, look into these figures/stories.

  • Babrius
  • Abstemius
  • Pergamenus
  • Oriental fables (Hindu, Persian, Chinese, etc)
  • Modern fables (French, Spanish, Russian, etc)
Is There a Difference Between Fables and Fairy Tales?

Is There a Difference Between Fables and Fairy Tales?

What's the Difference Between Fairy Tales and Fables?

Ideally, stories should be both interesting and educational. Upon a first glance, fables seem to be better stories for teaching. They are simple to understand, have strong educational morals, and produce a different impact on readers. Children and adult would likely derive the same meanings from a story. This is ideal when a lesson needs to be taught quickly.

Fairy tales, on the other hand, operate on a symbolic level, which is great for children because their minds are not as structured as those of adults. Because it involves more of the mind, the themes and lessons in a fairy tale are easier to remember.

As you can see, fables and fairy tales have distinctive characteristics and thus shouldn't be considered to be the same thing. You can choose which stories to read to help reach your teaching or storytelling goals.

Thanks for your visit - hope you enjoyed this list of fables...

Albertina Shihepo on September 10, 2018:

I want to know the morals we learn from fables and also i want a mentor in composing. Thank you for all of you.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 20, 2018:

Sure they are, Annah!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 27, 2014:

@Faye Rutledge: Thanks for you comment!

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on July 24, 2014:

When I was a kid (many years ago) we had a great big book, full of fables. Loved to read it. :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 16, 2014:

@Richard1988: My pleasure!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 16, 2014:

@Richard1988: I hope this list helped:)

Richard from Hampshire - England on July 16, 2014:

I never even knew some of these existed until now! Thanks :)

Richard from Hampshire - England on July 16, 2014:

I never knew some of these existed, so I have lots to read up on now - thanks :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 18, 2014:

@Sorcerers Stone: Thank you for your kind words!

Sorcerers Stone on May 18, 2014:

You have compiled an excellent resource for me! I wish I could read ALL of it. However, I am grateful this lens is here when I get time for some reading! Internet air hug for you.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 28, 2014:

@Charito1962: They are among favorite ones, but there are many other treasures!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2014:

My favorite tales are those written by the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 15, 2014:

@traveldestinations: Me too:)

traveldestinations on March 14, 2014:

Love the old fables.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 04, 2014:

@Zeross4: I am glad you found something useful:)

Renee Dixon from Kentucky on February 03, 2014:

Loved this, a lot of things I hadn't heard of before- I think it's very important to read to children and teach them fables and fairy tales!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 03, 2014:

@VioletteRose LM: It is meant for parents who need reading material for kids:)

VioletteRose LM on January 31, 2014:

Wow this is a great list, thank you so much. They will be useful for my kids!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on January 02, 2014:

@michaelangelo1: Thank you!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on January 02, 2014:

@michaelangelo1: Thanks for the tip!

michaelangelo1 on December 30, 2013:

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michaelangelo1 on December 30, 2013:

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Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on November 12, 2013:

@tonyleather: Thank you!

tonyleather on November 12, 2013:

What a comprehensive and informative lens! Thank you!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on August 30, 2013:

@anonymous: Thank you very much for your kind comment.

anonymous on August 29, 2013:

I grew up hearing fables and fairy tales and enjoy both....you sure do put a lot of love straight from your heart to your pages and did it again with this gem!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on August 25, 2013:

@Gypzeerose: Thank you very much!

Rose Jones on August 24, 2013:

Amazing lens - I learned so much and was charmed by the illustrations.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 31, 2013:

@clevergirlname: Ahhh, childhood... We should never forget, right?

clevergirlname on July 30, 2013:

Great lens! I love fables - they bring me back to my childhood!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 15, 2013:

@SimonJay: Thanks for your visit and comment:)

SimonJay on July 11, 2013:

Wow so much choice most of these i haven't even heard of before so thx for sharing.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 07, 2013:

@vicky71: Great to hear that!

vicky71 on July 06, 2013:

My childhood returned as i was reading this lens. Lovely lens. Thanks

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on July 02, 2013:

@socialcx1: I am glad to hear that!

socialcx1 on July 01, 2013:

I really enjoyed reading this lens. Something different.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 29, 2013:

@Unlimited11-11: :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 29, 2013:

@pepys: Thank you!

Tom McHugh from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA on June 28, 2013:

Great lens! I found this very thought provoking and share your interest in fables, fairy tales and folklore.

pepys on June 27, 2013:

Beautiful images - they make the look of this lens very appealing.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 26, 2013:

@happy-birthday: Thanks for your visit!

Birthday Wishes from Here on June 25, 2013:

Wonderful lens!!! Thanks a lot for sharing!!!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 24, 2013:

@Bercton1: :)

Bercton1 on June 23, 2013:

Well written and talent you have display in this lens!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 16, 2013:

@othellos: You are too kind:)

othellos on June 15, 2013:

Excellent les. You are a Master of explaining fables, fairytales and so many other things. Very talented indeed. Thanks for sharing:=)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 15, 2013:

@anonymous: Thank you!

anonymous on June 15, 2013:

Another Wonderful Lens! Thank You for Sharing Your Talents - Best Wishes :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on June 06, 2013:

@Socialpro54 LM: Indeed:)

Socialpro54 LM on June 06, 2013:

lovely lens

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 30, 2013:

@rking96: Thanks!

Rick King from Charleston, SC on May 29, 2013:

I had not heard of Fables for the Frivolous before. A lot of good info in this lens about a style that is due for a rebirth!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 25, 2013:

@Cynthia Haltom: Yes, the memories can be really powerful...

Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 25, 2013:

I really enjoy the pictures in old books, as a child I had quite a few books that were hand me downs and had picture that totally intrigued me as a child.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 11, 2013:

@ConvenientCalendar: Great to hear that!

ConvenientCalendar on May 09, 2013:

I enjoyed the lens! Thank you for sharing!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 19, 2013:

@LizMac60: I hope you'll find a lot of interesting fables!

Liz Mackay from United Kingdom on April 18, 2013:

I have Aesop's fables on Kindle and I've heard of Uncle Remus and heard some in my childhood, but the others were new to me.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 28, 2013:

@flinnie lm: I hope you find some interesting reading:)

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on March 28, 2013:

Thanks for all of these fables.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 17, 2013:

@Aunt-Mollie: Thanks. I'll have to check your fable...

Aunt-Mollie on March 17, 2013:

I really enjoyed your list of fables. I wrote two fables that I put on lenses here. One is in the language Joel Chandler used in his Uncle Remus tales. I love the genre.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 25, 2013:

@kabbalah lm: Thank you!

kabbalah lm on February 25, 2013:

Great lens. Thanks

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 22, 2013:

@GuitarTrainer: Thanks:)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 22, 2013:

@JordanWalker LM: Thanks:)

GuitarTrainer on February 22, 2013:

The Alchemist was the first fable I read. Anyway great lens!

JordanWalker LM on February 21, 2013:

This was an awesome list!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 14, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks:)

anonymous on February 14, 2013:

What a lovely page you have here. Thank you.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 14, 2013:

@sstock93 lm: Thanks!

sstock93 lm on February 14, 2013:

Your list of most popular fables of all time was really good. Keep up the good work!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 06, 2013:

@Michael Oksa: Great to hear that!

Michael Oksa on February 06, 2013:

I always learn something new on your lenses. Wonderful job! :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 05, 2013:

@anonymous: Great to hear that!

anonymous on February 05, 2013:

I love both fairy tales and fables. Great info here, thanx.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on January 22, 2013:

@Melissa Miotke: They really are!

Melissa Miotke from Arizona on January 22, 2013:

I think fables are a great way to teach important lessons to children.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 26, 2012:

@anonymous: Great to hear that. Again the same link?

anonymous on December 25, 2012:

Very good information. Thanks for sharing!

visit www.yohooho.com

and if you want, please leave comment.I really appreciate it. Thanks

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 24, 2012:

@dellgirl: :))

dellgirl on December 23, 2012:

Thank you for sharing this List of most popular fables of all time, I like all of them. This is an excellent lens.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 20, 2012:

@anonymous: I like them too!

anonymous on December 20, 2012:

This is good information, it is worth considering, I think I like them. :)

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 12, 2012:

@Tennyhawk: Thank you:)

Tennyhawk on December 12, 2012:

Terrific lens. A very enjoyable read with some very interesting questions to consider. Thanks.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 06, 2012:

@anonymous: I am blushing...

anonymous on December 06, 2012:

Excellent lens. Really like how you clarify literary definitions and issues. Your work is always solid and informative.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 04, 2012:

@shahedashaikh: My pleasure!

shahedashaikh on December 04, 2012:

A vivid collection thanks for sharing and making us remember all that childhood was.Thanks specially for visiting my lens special gifts for the guys liking it and posting a comment.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on December 01, 2012:

@sallemange: Thank you!

sallemange on November 29, 2012:

Such a great lens and a great reminder of some lovely traditions

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on November 29, 2012:

@CoolFool83: I am working to expand it even further:)

CoolFool83 on November 28, 2012:

This is quite a list. Thanks for sharing.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on November 23, 2012:

@sheilamarie78: Thanks, I appreciate your support. Working on more...

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on November 22, 2012:

I love the subject matter of your lenses. I look forward to reading more!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on November 14, 2012:

@Michey LM: They really stay with us, don't they?

Michey LM on November 14, 2012:

I grew up with fables, and I still love them, as they have great meaning.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on November 14, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you for your visit!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on November 14, 2012:

@grusem: Thanks:)

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