Historical Events  Books
Snow White

In the original story, how old was Snow White?

MMDE: 14

Current: 7

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was made famous when the Brothers Grimm published it, as part of a set drawn from traditional fables, in 1812. The story became more and more popular the world over before Disney made their famous cartoon in 1937.

It tells of how the young Snow White was befriended by the seven dwarves and her battle with the vain Queen.

The issue here is just how young was she? Most people familar with the story from the cartoon assume she was in her teens,  or early twenties at the most. It turns out that her age in the original novel, "Little Snow White" comes as quite a shock to many people: she was 7.

Even Disney thought they were being careful by doubling her age to 14 in their movie, but clearly by modern standards this is still disturbing. 

Many changes

Even the story the Brothers Grimm told had been watered down from the original. In theirs, she was 16, and a whole section about the Queen sending a servant out the kill Snow White and prove it by bringing back her lungs and liver has been removed. For good reason too - although a boars are used instead, the Queen eats them when he returns!

Based on a real person?

The story was already folklore before the Brothers Grimm published it, but there is evidence it actually was based on real events dating back to the middle ages. Margarete von Waldeck (1553-1554), who was a countess and the alleged lover of Philip II of Spain, died at a young age and many suspected she had been poisoned. She had a terrible relationship with her stepmother. Even stranger, the town where she grew up (Wildungen) had copper mines where young children were forced to work. The chemicals and poor nourishment caused them to suffer stunted growth, and even ended up being known as the "poor dwarfs". Could it be that down the centuries, these facts morphed into the story we're all familiar with today?