List of Most Popular Fables of All Time and Their Authors

Updated on December 18, 2017
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Tolovaj is a small publishing house that specializes in children's literature.

A Fable Illustration by Walter Crane
A Fable Illustration by Walter Crane | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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.

Source

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

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.

Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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.

Do you prefer fairy tales or fables?

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

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    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      3 months ago from Ljubljana

      Sure they are, Annah!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Faye Rutledge: Thanks for you comment!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      4 years ago from Concord VA

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Richard1988: My pleasure!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Richard1988: I hope this list helped:)

    • Richard1988 profile image

      Richard 

      4 years ago from Hampshire - England

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

    • Richard1988 profile image

      Richard 

      4 years ago from Hampshire - England

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Sorcerers Stone: Thank you for your kind words!

    • Sorcerers Stone profile image

      Sorcerers Stone 

      4 years ago

      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.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

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

    • profile image

      traveldestinations 

      4 years ago

      Love the old fables.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 

      4 years ago from Kentucky

      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!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 

      4 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @michaelangelo1: Thank you!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @michaelangelo1: Thanks for the tip!

    • michaelangelo1 profile image

      michaelangelo1 

      4 years ago

      This is very interesting and very informative and you might want to check this 5 Tips How to Make Money by Doing What You Love

    • michaelangelo1 profile image

      michaelangelo1 

      4 years ago

      This is very interesting and very informative and you might want to check this 5 Tips How to Make Money by Doing What You Love

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @tonyleather: Thank you!

    • profile image

      tonyleather 

      4 years ago

      What a comprehensive and informative lens! Thank you!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      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!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Gypzeerose: Thank you very much!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      4 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • clevergirlname profile image

      clevergirlname 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @SimonJay: Thanks for your visit and comment:)

    • SimonJay profile image

      SimonJay 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @vicky71: Great to hear that!

    • profile image

      vicky71 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @socialcx1: I am glad to hear that!

    • socialcx1 profile image

      socialcx1 

      5 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this lens. Something different.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Unlimited11-11: :)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @pepys: Thank you!

    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 

      5 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

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

    • pepys profile image

      pepys 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @happy-birthday: Thanks for your visit!

    • happy-birthday profile image

      Birthday Wishes 

      5 years ago from Here

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Bercton1: :)

    • Bercton1 profile image

      Bercton1 

      5 years ago

      Well written and talent you have display in this lens!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @othellos: You are too kind:)

    • profile image

      othellos 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Socialpro54 LM: Indeed:)

    • Socialpro54 LM profile image

      Socialpro54 LM 

      5 years ago

      lovely lens

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @rking96: Thanks!

    • rking96 profile image

      Rick King 

      5 years ago from Charleston, SC

      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!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      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.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @ConvenientCalendar: Great to hear that!

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 

      5 years ago

      I enjoyed the lens! Thank you for sharing!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      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.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Thanks for all of these fables.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 

      5 years ago

      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.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @kabbalah lm: Thank you!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 

      5 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @GuitarTrainer: Thanks:)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @JordanWalker LM: Thanks:)

    • profile image

      GuitarTrainer 

      5 years ago

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

    • JordanWalker LM profile image

      JordanWalker LM 

      5 years ago

      This was an awesome list!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Thanks:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      What a lovely page you have here. Thank you.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @sstock93 lm: Thanks!

    • sstock93 lm profile image

      sstock93 lm 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Michael Oksa: Great to hear that!

    • Michael Oksa profile image

      Michael Oksa 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Great to hear that!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Melissa Miotke: They really are!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 

      5 years ago from Arizona

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Very good information. Thanks for sharing!

      visit www.yohooho.com

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @dellgirl: :))

    • profile image

      dellgirl 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: I like them too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Tennyhawk: Thank you:)

    • Tennyhawk profile image

      Tennyhawk 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: I am blushing...

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @shahedashaikh: My pleasure!

    • shahedashaikh profile image

      shahedashaikh 

      5 years ago

      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.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @sallemange: Thank you!

    • sallemange profile image

      sallemange 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 

      5 years ago

      This is quite a list. Thanks for sharing.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      Sheilamarie 

      5 years ago from British Columbia

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      5 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Thank you for your visit!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      @grusem: Thanks:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Loved this lens! Thank you for sharing!

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