Why is Shrek one of the greatest selling DVDs of all time? Why do shampoo advertisements base themselves on Sleeping Beauty? Why is it that in this age where there are stories surrounding us in every media imaginable, that the same simple stories keep being told?This study attempts to explain why fairy tales keep popping up in the most unexpected places. It also examines the way that telling an autobiography as a fairy tale begins to affect the content of the story. Magical meaning is discovered in the strange turns of fate, and actual events take on the flavour of 'magic realism'. From Salman Rushdie, and Angela Carter to Kate Atkinson and Terry Pratchett, this book examines the different ways that fairy tales are used in postmodern fiction and why the most popular stories begin 'once upon a time'.