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I remember reading a compilation of children’s/bedtime/scary stories as a child, one of which was about a girl and a boy who eventually got married. Throughout the short story, she had a black ribbon tied around her neck, but refuses to tell her (eventual) husband what it is. On her deathbed she shows him what it's for; she pulls the bow loose and her head falls off.

What is the title of this book?

  • Could this be an Oz book, by chance? I think I remember a character in Oz who had her head tied on -- but I'm not sure. – Tango Jan 16 '12 at 4:12
  • No, it's not set in Oz. It was set in 'the real world'. – AncientSwordRage Jan 16 '12 at 4:13
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    I totally remember this story! I was going to guess Edgar Allen Poe, but he didn't write children's stories and I thought I remembered it was more modern. But, yeah, great story! – Slytherincess Jan 16 '12 at 5:09
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    was this a story - we used to tell this as one of those interminable jokes that went on forever when we were kids - go figure – daven11 Jan 16 '12 at 9:47
  • I'm pretty sure I've read it in either Grimm or Andersen, but now I can't find it. – SQB Jan 24 '14 at 10:11
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The story is The Green Ribbon, from the book In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories

You can listen to an audio version of it on Youtube here. There's also probably some different versions of the story that change the colour of the ribbon, depending on a few things.

  • Thanks very much! Had lots of fun just reading the reviews! :D – AncientSwordRage Jan 16 '12 at 4:41
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This story makes the rounds of regional and children's ghost story collections in multiple versions featuring many different colored ribbons. The original version is probably Washington Irving's "Adventure of a German Student" in which the band is black. Trust your memory if you remember a different color, you undoubtably read a varient that did in fact feature the color you remember- tracking that specific version down, however, is a whole other issue. Tales for the Midnight Hour by J. B. Stamper and Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark are two other children's collections with other versions.

  • +1 for noting that there are lots of folk-processed versions of this story, not just the one given in the other answer. – Micah Jan 16 '13 at 0:45

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