Is Labyrinth based on a novel?

Or did the book come out after the movie? Then what is that book that Sarah is holding in the beginning of the movie?

Labyrinth is an original story created from the combined efforts of a myriad of people. Jim Henson came up with the basic concept. Brian Froud brought that concept to physical form in his drawings, and Terry Jones contributed to the screenplay. I say contributed because it appears that his efforts much more closely resemble The Goblins of Labyrinth than Labyrinth as we've seen on film. From what I have been able to gather, Henson used only parts of Jones' orignal ideas, possibly because they dealt more with goblins than with Sarah.

Laura Phillips, I'm guessing, polished up the screenplay. She is credited on the early screenplay, which is very different from the finished movie as we know it, and special thanks is given to her in the end credits of the film.

Jim Henson must have altered the direction of Labyrinth many times before it evolved into the movie that it is today. In Starlog 109, he states that an early story idea involved a king and queen who had to rescue their baby from an enchantment. This version he felt was too similar to the movie "Legend" and the course of Labyrinth was altered again.

At the start, Sarah is reading a play in the park, is this novel, or play, real, or merely made up for the movie?

It would appear that the little red book called THE LABYRINTH is a prop and is made up just so Sarah can act out scenes from it (and have to consult it for important lines like "You have no power over me."). I'm guessing the prop is meant to be a play in book format, but Sarah could be one of those really imaginative types who act out books as well as plays. In the novelization (the real novel by A.C.H. Smith) Sarah's mother is a stage actress, so it makes me think Sarah is acting out a play like her mother does for a living. Also I referred to the Read-Along Storybook which states, "She was memorizing lines from a play called 'The Labyrinth.'"

If it's not real, and only made up for the movie, was the whole script, including the reference to the novel at the start, just written by Terry Jones?

As far as I have been able to piece together YES to all of the above! Although it would appear that Terry Jones spent far more time going on about goblins (see below The Goblins of Labyrinth reprinted as The Goblin Companion). The script as we would recognize it was credited to Laura Phillips and Terry Jones - Story by Dennis Lee. (See THINKLABYRINTH! for the early script).

If it was just all made up by Terry Jones (or whoever the author was), is the Labyrinth novel you speak of just one of those things that they write after a movie is released to try and cash in on consumerism?

the novel contains 8 pages of movie photos
Exactly! A.C.H. Smith, who also wrote the Dark Crystal novel, wrote out the Labyrinth novelization based on the movie, with only a few variations. So many people get this confused and think the movie was based on the novel because Sarah is holding the infamous little red book. I'd bet my entire Labyrinth collection that Smith's book came after the movie. There are just too many differences in the early scripts to suggest Smith's novel was first, then the movie. Another supporting fact is that the novel contains eight pages of photos taken from the movie.

I was unsure on this point, because you talk of Sarah's boyfriend appearing in the book, and as he's not in the movie I was wondering about the differences in the story as a whole.

There aren't really tons of differences, just some interesting ones. It is Smith's novel where we hear of Jeremy (Sarah's mother's boyfriend who gave Sarah the music box), Sir Didymus being much larger, Jareth being a complete and total twat, etc. Some of the coolest differences are that junklady who tries to persuade Sarah to stay in her "room" is actually Jareth in disguise, and Sarah first chooses the doorknocker on the left where there is a field of laughing flowers that start her laughing until she is unable to move. Ludo has to rescue her, then they take the right door knocker. There is also some conversation between some lech and Sarah in the ballroom scene.

If it is real, then where can I get a copy

If it's real...

I have a movie poster that says something like "Novel courtesy of Henry Holt and Co." Now, they did publish the American edition of the A.C.H. Smith novel (as well as other Labyrinth books). However, in Britain the book was published by Virgin. I'm at the point where I'm going to send a nice little letter to HH&Co. to see if they had anything to do with the little red book, if it was just a prop, and if I can get a copy - even if the damn thing is completely blank inside!

Where can I get a copy?

Auction powerhouse eBay regularly has people auctioning them and has plenty of Marketplace sellers offering used copies.

If you just want to read it online, Stephanie Massick typed up the whole book at The Depths of the Crystal but she's since taken down her page. Fortunately Walter Pullen of THINKLABYRINTH! created a text version of Stephanie's work. Because of the loss of an HTML version of the novel, I've duplicated Stephanie's efforts here at The Goblins' Library.

Other confusing references:

There's also a lot of confusion over Terry Jones' and Brian Froud's book The Goblins of Labyrinth (published by our friends at Henry Holt & Co). It went out of print a long time ago, and was reprinted in 1996 as The Goblin Companion: A Field Guide to Goblins by Turner Publishing Inc. in the US, by Pavilion Books in the UK. This edition also went out of print, but was re-issued in 1998 by Barnes and Noble. Neither reprint reproduces Froud's amazing color centerfolds but at least the Barnes and Noble version has the full size dimensions of The Goblins of Labyrinth (meaning Turner's size was a dinky little 15 cm x 21.5 cm instead of the full 23 cm x 31 cm). Normally I don't nit-pick like this, but when we're talking art books, I get really fussy! Furthermore, Harry N. Abrams published the Deluxe 20th Anniversary edition edition of The Goblins Of Labyrinth September 1, 2006. This new edition contains even more artwork than the original and a new afterword from Brian Froud.

Less confusing, although still confusing are Labyrinth: The Storybook Based on the Movie and Labyrinth: The Photo Album which Intergalactic Trading Co. called a storybook - so don't confuse it with the first one I just mentioned! The storybook is a cute book with cartoons that you'd read to kids. The Photo Album still has a story, but with photos that we adult women can drool over and could never part with, no way, not ever! Don't let either of these confuse you with the Labyrinth Read-Along Storybook. It has some fantastic photos which do not appear in The Photo Album. The Read-Along Storybook includes either a 7" 33-1/3 RPM record or an audio cassette, both version of which I have.

Maybe I shouldn't even bring up the TokyoPop manga sequel, the four volume "Return to Labyrinth" series. I don't follow manga or comics very much, so I can't critique the artwork; I can only comment on the story, but I can't even do that yet as I have only read the first book so far. Reviews on aren't too kind, but I did enjoy volume 1. I hope to post more details soon.

To sum everything up, I think we can safely say:

Known variations: (chronologically as best I can guess)

  • Goblins of Labyrinth
  • early script
  • film version "Labyrinth"
  • novel version "Labyrinth"
Known interpretations: (developed after the movie)
  • 2 story books
  • 3 issue comic book (also available in one magazine-sized comic)
  • 3 coloring books, 2 activity books, 1 sticker book
Sequels: (developed after the movie)
  • 4 volume Manga "Return to Labyrinth" published by TokyoPop
Early development: (used as references for this page)
  • interviews
  • documentary
I hope that clears up most of the confusion! There's also a sitemap to give you a visual idea as to what is loacted here at The Goblins' Library.

goblin guard
Go to the novel now.

Go to the Photo Album now.

Go to the Storybook now.

Go to the Read-Along Storybook now.

Go to the Goblins of Labyrinth now.

Go to the Goblin Companion now.

Return to the library's entrance.