Late 19th century illustration for "Herr Korbes" by the British artist and writer Walter Crane.

"Herr Korbes" (also translated into English as "Mr. Korbes" and "Squire Korbes") is a German fairy tale. It is included in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the 1812 anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm.

The story concerns a group of animals and inanimate objects that, for reasons that are not fully specified, punish the title character by inflicting pain and suffering on him.


A hen and a rooster are traveling in a small cart pulled by four mice. They are on their way to see a man known as Herr Korbes. The hen and the rooster are soon joined on their journey by a cat, a millstone, an egg, a duck, a pin and a needle. When they all arrive at Herr Korbes' house, they find that he is not at home. The hen and the rooster perch in the barn. The cat sits by the fire. The duck goes into the kitchen. The egg hides inside a towel. The pin goes onto a chair. The needle goes onto the pillow of Herr Korbes' bed. The millstone sits above the door.

Herr Korbes returns home and warms himself by the fire. The cat throws ashes in his face. He goes into the kitchen to clean his face. The duck splashes him with water. Herr Korbes gets a towel to dry himself. The egg inside the towel then cracks open. Its contents glue Herr Korbes' eyes shut. Herr Korbes decides to sit down. He is then pricked by the pin. Herr Korbes decides to go to bed. When he puts his head on the pillow, he gets pricked by the needle. Herr Korbes decides to leave the house. When he opens the door, the millstone falls on his head and kills him.[1]


The first three paragraphs of "The Malice of Inanimate Objects", a 1933 ghost story by the British author M.R. James, consist almost entirely of a retelling of "Herr Korbes".


  1. A sentence is added to the end of the story in the 1850 sixth edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) that attempts to justify the horrible punishment that Herr Korbes receives. It states, Der Herr Korbes muß ein recht böser Mann gewessen sein, which means, "Herr Korbes must have been a pretty bad man." Not only had that final explanatory sentence not formed part of the tale in any of the five earlier editions of the anthology, it was also removed from it in the Grimms' seventh and final 1857 edition of the work.

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