Is Coraline Based On A True Story?

Coraline first entered our lives as a dark children’s novella in 2002. Written by Neil Gaiman and published by Bloomsbury and HarperCollins, Coraline evoked both fear and amazement in its readers.

Is Coraline Based On A True Story?

Soon after, in 2009, it made its first appearance on the big screen, and it was nominated for and won several of the film industry’s most prestigious awards. 

If you’re familiar with the story, you’ll know it’s nothing short of eerie and macabre, with the odd injection of humor. But is there more to Coraline than meets the eye, and is this timeless tale based on a true story? 

The Story Of Coraline

 This dark British novella written by Neil Gaiman follows the life of Coraline Jones and her workaholic parents.

When they move into a large, creepy old house, Coraline’s curiosity leads her to an unusual doorway. On the other side is a parallel universe, far more sinister than her quaint reality… 

The unusual doorway gives birth to a world full of mystery and dark happenings.

From her evil other-mother to a rat circus and a crazy old man, this separate universe risks shattering Coraline’s real world apart, and she must fight to preserve it. 

Of course, one of the most distinctive (and creepy) features of this parallel universe is the button eyes that her real-world parallels have.

If you’re already familiar with the story, this is probably one of the first things you think of when you hear the name ‘Coraline.’  

As she learns that her sinister other-mother has trapped many souls inside her alternative world, Coraline is determined to rescue them and her real-world parents, who have been kidnapped and trapped inside her snow globe.

The story is littered with dark and twisty adventures, hair-raising moments, and emotional encounters as Coraline fights for a return to normalcy and to rescue those in the clutches of her evil other-mother. 

Is Coraline Based On A True Story? 

As you’ve probably gathered, real-life tales of alternative universes, button eyes, and evil parallel universe parents aren’t exactly common.

Is Coraline Based On A True Story? 

So, although Coraline wasn’t exactly based on a TRUE story, it did take its inspiration from a pretty eerier folktale. 

Victorian author Lucy Clifford released her own strange, dark story called ‘The New Mom’, which was a big source of inspiration for Coraline.

Clifford’s story has been retold in various folklore collections throughout the years.

The tale has been kicking about for some time, but if you haven’t heard of it, make yourself comfy… you’re in for a wild ride. 

‘The New Mom’ – Lucy Clifford 

In Lucy Clifford’s folktale ‘The New Mom,’ there are two sisters: Turkey and Blue Eyes. We’re already off to an unusual start, aren’t we? 

Well, it gets weirder. One day, the two sisters have a chance encounter with a rather strange girl who has an affinity for an unusual musical instrument which she calls a pearl.

The sisters quiz her about her strange instrument, and they soon discover that the young girl believes there is a small man and a small woman who live inside her instrument.

When she plays it, the tiny people come out of the pearl to dance, and the woman shares her secrets with her. 

Understandably, the sisters are desperate to see the tiny people that live inside the pearl, but unfortunately, the girl only shares her secret people with naughty children.

Apparently, the worse the children behave, the more the tiny people come out to dance. As you’d expect, this causes quite a bit of confusion.

The two sisters, usually well-behaved, are upset and confused – they don’t even know HOW to be naughty. 

As the sister’s mother hears of their plan to misbehave, she becomes upset and says that she should leave her children and replace herself with a mother with glass for eyes.

The sisters are frightened by their mother’s behavior, so they seek out their friend and ask her for her opinion on the situation.

The girl reassures them that mothers with glass eyes do NOT exist; they would be far too expensive to make, so the sisters don’t have to worry. 

On receipt of this good news, the sisters decide to be naughty.

After all, mothers with glass eyes don’t exist. In their attempt to meet the tiny people, the sisters wreak havoc in their home, breaking cups and plates all over the floor, throwing food around, and causing an almighty mess.

Their mother returns home enraged and sends them to bed, but it seems their efforts were for nothing. Their friend informs them that they were not naughty enough, and if they want to see the little people, they’ll have to try harder. 

The sisters continue to do all sorts of naughty things, and in the end, the mother cannot cope. She runs off into the field and never returns.

The sisters visit their friend with the pearl, but yet again, they are told they have not been naughty enough and that the little people have gone far away. 

As their friend leaves, the sisters are left alone in their house, waiting for their mother’s return. Eventually, a knock on the door disrupts them.

As they peeked behind the door, the glimmer of two glass eyes stared back at them. The sisters, desperate to stay far away from their new glass-eyed mother, run to the forest and plan to live there forever.

They occasionally sneak back to their house, hoping to resume their lives, but their new mother is always inside waiting. 

Although the sisters are trapped by their new mother, Coraline manages to escape and return to her real mother. This story has a far happier ending than this dark and twisty folktale! 

Final Thoughts 

No, Coraline may not be a real story, but the eerie folktale that inspired it is a real story, and it’s pretty terrifying.

But, thankfully, Coraline enjoys a far happier fate than the naughty sisters – who doesn’t love a happy ending?

Sophie Andrea