Is Hänsel & Gretel based on real historical events? Was Little Red Riding Hood once a way darker story? nd how did a cursed frog truly turn back into the prince? Today Johanna tells us just how horrifyingly gruesome these original tales were. Don’t let your kids listen to these old school fairy tales!
I adored Grimm’s Fairy Tales as a child and was far less creeped out by collected folk tales than by the gruesome actual writings of H. C. Andersen. We would read his ultimate horror stories, The Red Shoes and The Girl Who Trod On A Loaf, with delight. The Robber Bridegroom was the thriller of the Brothers Grimm. We had the beautifully illustrated versions of both authors published for the Illustrated Junior Library by Grossett and Dunlap. The stories were not in the least Disney-fied! As an adult, I read a lot about folk tales and universal themes, as well as historical themes in Europe. The Grimms often focused on the plight of youngest sons who had no financial prospects and mercenary soldiers (remember the Grimm’s locale was Hesse, home of the Hessian mercenaries in the American Revolution).
About the glass slippers, I have read the suggestion that the earliest versions of the story call them “bottes de vair” or fur boots. “Vair” turned into “verre” or glass.