The Ugly Duckling – Hans Christian Anderson

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The story of The Ugly Duckling was written by Hans Christian Anderson and was published for the first time in 1843 (download a free copy of The Ugly Duckling PDF by clicking the button down below).

Hans Christian Anderson was a Danish author and poet who has become known for his many other fairy tales including The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Princess And The Pea, and The Snow Queen just to mention a few. His stories have inspired so many movies, TV series, and theatre productions it is hard to count!

The Ugly Duckling Story

The Ugly Duckling PDF Download

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Is The Ugly Duckling PDF Free To Download?

Yes, it is! Hans Christian Anderson first published The Ugly Duckling in 1843 so it is in the public domain. You are therefore welcome to download the PDF and read it for free. We hope you enjoy it! Click here for more Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales.

What Is The Moral Of The Ugly Duckling?

The Ugly Duckling story is a timeless tale that is just as relevant today as it has always been. The moral of the story: Don’t judge anyone based on how they look no matter how different they are from you.

What Happened In The Ugly Duckling Story?

The Ugly Duckling story follows the story of a little duckling who is bigger and greyer than his duckling brothers and sisters when he hatches. All the other birds and animals on the farm where he lives think he is ugly and they tease and mock him mercilessly.

One day he decides to leave the farm and he meets some wild geese. However, soon thereafter, hunters appear and the wild geese are killed by the hunters and their dogs.

He then finds a house where an old woman lives with her cat and hen. Soon the cat and hen become just as cruel and they tease the duckling just like his siblings and the other farm animals did. One day he sees some beautiful swans and he wishes that he can join them.

When winter arrives the little duckling is caught in the cold and a farmer saves him. However, the farmer’s children are loud and boisterous and they scare the duckling so he escapes and spends the rest of the winter outside hiding in a cave next to the lake.

When spring arrives a flock of swans arrives at the lake. By now the ugly duckling has decided that life isn’t worth living anymore and when he sees the swans he decides to go to them hoping that they will kill him.

However, he is shocked to find that the swans welcome him as one of their own family.

He then sees his reflection in the water and realizes that he is also in fact a swan! Just then some children come to the lake and they are extremely excited at seeing the new swan. They feed the swans bread and call their parents to show them the new swan that is so much more beautiful than even the other swans.

What Made The Ugly Duckling Ugly?

When The Ugly Duckling was born he was bigger than a normal duckling. He was also grey in color so his siblings and the other farm animals decided he was ugly.

A Normal Duckling
A Swan Duckling

What Does The Ugly Duckling Symbolize

Hans Christian Anderson used The Ugly Duckling as a symbol for people who are different. Interestingly, it is said that Hans Christian Anderson himself was a bit of an “ugly duckling” so he may very well have modeled the story after his own experiences.

Andersen himself was a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet, and when he grew up with a beautiful singing voice and a passion for the theater he was cruelly teased and mocked by other children

Anne Chisholm | Biographer and Journalist

The Ugly Duckling Movies and Adaptations

The Ugly Duckling has been the inspiration for many adaptations over the years. In 1939, Walt Disney created a version in its Silly Symphony series that is just as cute today as it was then!

The Ugly Duckling | Walt Disney Silly Symphony (1939)


The Ugly Duckling is a timeless story that teaches that we should never judge someone by their appearance. It was written by Hans Christian Anderson, and it is said that the story was modeled after his own life. Download a free copy of The Ugly Duckling PDF here.

Next: The Ice Maiden

More Children’s Bedtime Story PDF eBooks:

Little Red Riding Hood
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The Wind In The Willows
The Three Little Pigs
The Velveteen Rabbit