Duffy and the Devil

Children's Book
Duffy and the Devil
Harve Zemach
Margot Zemach
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Place of Printing:
New York
Date of Printing:
10.5 x 8.4 inches

Author and Commentators

Harve Zemach (pseudonym of Harvey Fichstrom) (1933-1974). American author and Fulbright Scholarship recipient. In 1957, he married his wife, Margot.

Margot Zemach (1931-1989). American book illustrator with over forty children’s books to her credit. Margot Zemach also was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. She corroborated with her husband, Harve Zemach, on thirteen books.

The Book

This book is based on a 19th Century Cornish play. It is a first edition and was awarded the 1974 Caldecott Medal as the year’s most distinguished American picture book for children. On the title page is the inscription “To the JFK Library, All good wishes. Margot Zemach.”


This seems to be a version of the Rumpelstiltskin tale. Duffy is a lazy working girl who is hired by a squire to make and mend his clothes. However, Duffy breaks the sewing machine. A small devil appears and agrees to manufacture the clothes and do her other chores if Duffy agrees to leave with him after three years unless she can accurately discover his true name. Duffy is unconcerned until it nears the third year and then is near despair. However, with the help of Old Jone, a more experience servant, and the squire, Duffy is able to avoid her fate.

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