A Little Princess began as a short story called “Sara Crewe, or What Happened at Miss Minchin’s,” which was later expanded into a play, The Little Un-Fairy Princess, and finally published in novel form. The basic story in each version is the same: Wealthy, princess-like Sara Crewe loses her money after some unfortunate business dealings hasten her father’s death and is forced by the hostile and bitter headmistress of her school to work as a servant. Despite the horrific conditions she must now live under, Sara fights to maintain her dignity and graciousness and is finally discovered by her father’s former business partner and is restored to the wealth that wasn’t lost after all.
However, the earlier versions lack certain elements present in the final novel. Sometimes details are different, and Sara’s characterization undergoes a shift too. I will now elaborate on the details of these differences in the short story (saving the play for another time), and it’s going to get long.