"The Shepherd Boy" is a very short story by the Brothers Grimm which recently found fame in the world of popular sci-fi by being referenced prominently in an episode of Doctor Who. In general it is known that the Brothers Grimm didn't write the stories themselves but collected them from various traditional sources. But I'm curious if anything is known about the origins of this particular story.

Is anything known about the history and origins of the story "The Shepherd Boy"?

  • I haven't seen the Dr Who episode, but having read the story now I recognize the diamond mountain from a philosophical discussion in one of the Pratchett novels, though for the life of me I can't think which one. The conversation being along the lines of 'well where's this mountain then?' and protestations about the relative hardness of birds beaks and diamond mountains. I never knew the source of it before.
    – Spagirl
    Feb 20 '19 at 16:04
  • 1
    Good Omens! That’s where I know it from. goodreads.com/quotes/…
    – Spagirl
    Feb 20 '19 at 20:20

According to the listed attributions in 'The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm All-New Third Edition' the source was Ludwig Aurbacher

  1. The Little Shepherd Boy “Das Hirtenbüblein” (1819). Source: Ludwig Aurbacher

he seems to have been something of a polymath.

The work of Aurbacher covers a wide range. From pedagogy, psychology, philology and religion to poetry. He became famous for his Ein Volksbüchlein, a treasure chest of Swabian folk poetry.


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