"Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump is the stupidest title ever written by man or beast and of course when I wrote it, I never- I had not, at the point, when I gave Ron that title, I didn't imagine for a second that I was actually going to write the story."
J. K. Rowling[src]

Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump was a wizarding fairy tale that was featured in The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The story gives us one of the earliest literary mentions of Animagi (when Babbitty turns herself into a small rabbit at will), as it was first published hundreds of years ago.[1]

Plot summary

"But I did get there and it's a story about revenge. One witch's sort of cunning way of revenging herself for persecution, for Muggle persecution."
J. K. Rowling[src]

A long time ago, in a land far far away, a King decides to keep all the magic in the world for himself. In order to get all the magic, he needs to gather all the witches and wizards in the world, so he forms the Brigade of Witch-Hunters, armed with packs of wild dogs. But first, he needs to learn how to use magic, so he calls for someone with magical abilities to teach him. No real wizards or witches respond, but a Muggle pretends to be a wizard, and offers to teach him, despite not knowing any magic himself.[1]


Soon, the Muggle teacher demands money and treasures for his services, and he hides all these objects in his small house. Babbitty, the king's washer woman, hides and watches the Muggle as he pulls two twigs from a tree and later pretends these are wands.[1]

While the king and the Muggle are practising, they hear Babbitty laughing hysterically from her cottage. This enrages the King, who demands that the Muggle help him perform in front of his subjects to show off his new abilities. The Muggle tries to back out by saying he has to go out of town, and cannot help him, but the King threatens to send the Brigade of Witch-Hunters after him, and if anyone laughs while the King is performing, the Muggle will be beheaded. The Muggle heads to Babbitty's house, where he spies on her, and finds out that she is a real witch. He asks her to help him, or he will expose her.[1]

Amused, Babbitty agrees to help out the poor Muggle. He tells Babbitty that she will hide in the bush tomorrow, and make it seem as if the King himself can do magic. While they perform, the crowd is astonished by the disappearance of a hat and a levitating horse; then, one of the members of the brigade asks if the King can make his dead dog return to life. The King tries, but Babbitty does nothing, because she knows no magic can raise the dead. The crowd laughs at the King, and the King wants to know why the spell isn't working. The Muggle points to the bush, and says a wicked witch is blocking them. Babbitty runs from the bush, and when the hounds chase after her she "disappears", leaving the dogs barking at a tree.[1]

Babbitty Rabbitty

The Muggle tells the crowd that Babbitty turned into the tree, and that the tree must be cut down, because she is an "evil" witch. The crowd is wild, and the tree is cut down. As the crowd starts to leave, they hear a cackling coming from the stump. Babbitty tells the crowd that real wizards and witches cannot be cut in half, and that they should cut the Muggle in half to prove it. The Muggle confesses he is a fraud, and Babbitty tells them that the King is cursed, and he will feel an axe stroke every time a witch or wizard is harmed.[1]

So the King makes a proclamation declaring that witches and wizards are protected and that they must not be harmed. Babbitty demands a statue be built of herself, to remind everyone what has been decreed. The King promises it will be done, and erects a statue of her made of gold. Soon after, an old rabbit appears out of a hole in the stump with a wand in its mouth, revealing that Babbitty has been hiding in her Animagus form, and she leaves the kingdom. Forever after, the statue of Babbitty remains on top of the stump, and no witch or wizard is ever hurt in that kingdom ever again.[1]

Behind the scenes

  • In the Polish translation of the books, the fairy tale is named "Czara Mara i jej Gdaczący Pieniek". The name Czara Mara comes from polish word "Czary Mary" which is a generic spell incantation used in polish, most notably in media aimed at children, in a similar way to "Abracadabra".


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 The Tales of Beedle the Bard - "Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 7 (The Will of Albus Dumbledore)

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