A Study Of Fairy Tales By Laura F. Kready
"A fairy tale or fairy story is a fictional story that usually features folkloric characters (such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and talking animals) and enchantments, often involving a far-fetched sequence of events. In modern-day parlance, the term is also used to describe to something blessed with unusual happiness, as in "fairy tale ending" (a happy ending) or "fairy tale romance", though not all fairy tales end happily. Colloquially, a "fairy tale" or "fairy story" can also mean any far-fetched story.
In cultures where demons and witches are perceived as real, fairy tales may merge into legendary narratives, where the context is perceived by teller and hearers as having historical actuality. However, unlike legends and epics, they usually do not contain more than superficial references to religion and actual places, persons, and events; they take place "once upon a time" rather than in actual times.
The history of the fairy tale is particularly difficult to trace, because only the literary forms can survive. Still, the evidence of literary works at least indicates that fairy tales have existed for thousands of years, although not perhaps recognized as a genre; the name "fairy tale" was first ascribed to them by Madame d'Aulnoy. Literary fairy tales are found over the centuries throughout the world, and when folklorists collected them, they found fairy tales in every culture. Fairy tales, and works derived from fairy tales, are still written today.
The older fairy tales were intended for an audience of adults as well as children, but they were associated with children as early as the writings of the precieuses; the Brothers Grimm titled their collection Children's and Household Tales, and the link with children has only grown stronger with time."