A public domain for Cinderella

A Kiss for Cinderella

An excerpt from page 112 of A Kiss for Cinderella, public domain via MIT Libraries.

This post is part of the MIT Libraries Public Domain Day celebration. Read the full text of public domain books digitized by the MIT Libraries, explore other volumes, and learn about the public domain at our website.

J.M. Barrie is best known as the creator of Peter Pan, however he also wrote about more traditional characters. His play A Kiss for Cinderella opened on Broadway for Christmas 1916, and our copy of the script was published in 1923 with a copyright date of 1920. The play was adapted into a silent film in 1925.

Barrie’s play is a (then) modern-day take on the classic Cinderella tale and character, which trace their roots far back into cultural history (the earliest known Cinderella tale dates from ~7 BCE).  This deep history puts Cinderella into the public domain, which has allowed many authors to build on the story and a allowed the character to become as well known as she is today.

Barrie’s copyright in the play would protect unique aspects he added, but not the well known character or plot.