19th century illustration for "The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep" by Vilhelm Pederson.

"The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep" (Danish: "Hyrdinden og Skorsteensfeieren") is a romantic fantasy story for children by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published in 1845.

The main characters in the story are two porcelain figurines, one which looks like a shepherdess and one which looks like a chimney sweep. The two figurines are in love with each other but another figurine, who claims to be the shepherdess' grandfather, wants her to marry a hideous carved wooden figure. To save her from her fate, the chimney sweep tells the shepherdess that he can help her escape by leading her up the chimney and out into the world beyond.


In a room in a house there is an old wooden cabinet. On the cabinet there is an image of a satyr, a man with the legs and the horns of a goat. On a shelf facing the satyr, there are three porcelain figurines. There are two small ones, a female one dressed as a shepherdess and a male one who is supposed to be a chimney sweep, although his face and hands look completely clean and free of soot. There is another figurine, three times larger than the other two, which is in the form of a Chinese man who can nod his head. The Chinese gentleman claims to be the grandfather of the Shepherdess.


Illustration by Bertail for a 19th century French translation of "The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep".

The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep are in love with each other but one day, the Chinese gentleman happily anounces to the Shepherdess that she is to marry the wooden satyr, who is wealthy because his cabinet is full of valuable objects. The Shepherdess does not want to marry the frightening creature, saying that she has heard that he already has twelve other porcelain wives hidden away in the cabinet. The Chinese gentleman is unmoved by the Shepherdess' story and insists that the marriage goes ahead.

Hans Christian Andersen - The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep - silhouette

Paper silhouette of a chimney sweep made by Hans Christian Andersen himself.

The Chimney Sweep tells the Shepherdess that he can lead her to safety. He first takes her to a drawer where some playing cards and puppets live but the Chinese gentleman tries to pursue them. The Chimney Sweep tells the Shepherdess that he can lead her through the chimney and out of the house. After a long journey, the two finally arrive on the roof and look out at the town and the starry sky. The Shepherdess is frightened by how large the world is and asks the Chimney Sweep to lead her back down the chimney and into the room again.

On arrival back in the room, the Shepherdess is horrified to see that, while trying to chase after them, the Chinese gentleman fell to the floor and broke into three pieces, although the Chimney Sweep tells her that he can be mended easily. The Chimney Sweep is right, the Chinese gentleman is mended but he can no longer nod. The wooden satyr asks the Shepherdess' Chinese grandfather if he can marry her but, because he can no longer nod and does not want to admit that, he does not say yes. Consequently, the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep live happily together as before.


The French animated film Le Roi et l'oiseau (known in English as The King and the Mockingbird, first released in 1952 and re-released in an expanded version in 1980) is a loose adaptation of the story. In the film, the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep are life-size images from paintings rather than small porcelain figures. The Chinaman is replaced by a classical statue and the wooden carving of a satyr is replaced by the image from a self-portrait of a villainous king. When the image comes to life, he disposes of the real king and takes his place. The king in the film is a much more developed villain than the satyr is in the story and his chief adversary is a brave and intelligent bird who comes to the aid of the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep whenever they are in trouble, hence the film's title.

A dubbed English version of Le Roi et l'oiseau from 1952, entitled The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird, is now in the public domain.

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