Most of us associate the origins of Snow White with Willhelm and Jacob Grimm’s 19th century publication of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) which is a volume of German folklore collected by the Grimm brothers and not actually composed by the two. So where did this tale actually come from? Is it really just the product of an unknown story-teller’s imagination or was this famous fair-faced maiden based on historical fact? German scholar Eckhard Sander presumes in his book Schneewittchen: Marchen oder Wahrheit? (Snow White: Is It a Fairy Tale?) that the real Snow White was in fact Countess Margarete Von Waldeck.
Margarete was daughter to Count Phillip von Waldeck-Wildungen and step-daughter to Katherina of Hatzefeld, whom Margarete did not get along with. At the age of sixteen, Margarete was sent away to Wildungen, Brussels where she met and fell in love with Phillip the II, who would later become king of Spain. A marriage between the Spanish prince and German countess was seen as politically disadvantageous by many and Margarete’s untimely death all-too-conveniently ended the affair.
According to Sander, Margarete did not die of some unknown illness, but was poisoned by the Spanish secret police to keep her from marrying the future king. However, her “wicked” stepmother couldn’t have been the culprit since she was dead before Margarete’s death. While it is unlikely that the weapon of choice was an apple, poisoned apples were given out by a man living in Wildungen who didn’t want children stealing his fruit. And as for the seven dwarves, Maragerete’s brother owned copper mines in Wildungen which employed children who worked twelve hour days. The children grew crooked and crippled from the work. Their hair grayed prematurely and most were dead before the age of twenty. Thus, they looked much like the dwarves from the Brothers Grimm’s tale. According to Sander, the many parts of the story from this particular region were told and retold until they became the tale that the Grimm’s brothers recorded and we now know as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”
Article written by Andrea Cefalo, author of The Fairytale Keeper: a novel of corruption, devotion, and the origins of Grimm’s fairytales. To follow Andrea Cefalo and hear more about The Fairytale Keeper series, please visit:
A huge thanks goes out to Judith Brown and The Laurens Advertiser for their lovely front-page article about The Fairytale Keeper. I’ll be signing at The Bookstore (also in Laurens) tomorrow from 3-5pm. I can’t wait! To see the full article, click here.
The amazing Calum of The Secret Blogger is giving away a copy of The Fairytale Keeper. Here’s another secret, ever if you don’t win my book you might win a little something else. Check out the article and enter to win your copy here.
So today I had my first signing. I was pretty nervous, but the people at Mr. K’s (Greenville, SC) were so gracious. I had no idea what to expect because this was my first signing. I (somewhat naively) ordered 100 books. Unless you’re JK Rowling or have some sort of cult following, it’s unlikely that the turnout for an event is going to be huge so needless to say I haven plenty of books left over for the other two signings that I have this week. That’s okay. It would be a real problem if I had to cancel a signing because I couldn’t get enough books shipped to me.
All in all, I met some amazing people and did rather well in sales. The staff even told me that people had come in earlier that week to request the book before it had even been released! I owe a huge thanks to Ken M., Nancy C., Greg C., Becky K., Alyssa K., Katie C., Lydia C., Dana W., and the wonderful staff at Mr. K’s for making my first signing such a positive experience.