Monday, March 12, 2012

A historical Snow White?

Lancelot Speed

Once Upon a blog featured an interview with Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White in ABC's "Once Upon a Time," in which she talks about her researching for the part of Snow White. Goodman says, "I read all kinds of versions because this is not a story written by the Grimms.
This is a story older than anyone could possibly trace. It’s possible that it
was based on a real-life story of a princess named Maria Sophia Maragrita."

This was news to me, so first I went to wikipedia-no article on a Princess named Maria Sophia Margarita. Next step was Surlalune, who made no mention of a historical princess at all. The tale was a familiar one in many cultures previous to being published in the Grimm collection (the Goodwin quote above almost sounds like Snow White isn't in the Grimms' collection at all, but she just meant they didn't invent the story, merely collected it). The earliest literary version is from Basile's collection, so especially given what I just read in Ruth Bottigheimer's Fairy Tales: A New History, it's quite possible that this really was the genesis of the story, and not, as Goodwin claims, "older than anyone could possibly trace." But of course, you can't prove that the story wasn't in circulation before Basile-and wikipedia does reference an Albanian version that could be as old as the Middle Ages.

Found this post which I had to have translated into English, therefore making some of the wording very confusing... which talks about a Princess born in 1729 who lived in a castle with a toy mirror that was somehow rigged to repeat whatever you said to it, and probably interacted with dwarfish playmates: "The Seven Dwarfs (or elves) the story is perhaps not entirely bullshit: work in the narrow silver and copper mines
in the nearby town of Bieber demanded workers
who used short stature and endorse caps and brightly colored clothing to
facilitate identification in case of landslides and incidents, otherwise so
common in the mines. And according to historian Eckhard Sander suits we know of the
dwarves were wearing real clothes these children in their work. Maria Sofia played with them, hence its image has been associated with these child miners."
Charles Robinson

The blog post appears to have been well researched, but given the lack of reference to this Princess elsewhere I'm not sure I'd get my hopes up about finding out that Snow White actually having existed.
But while I'm referencing Once Upon a Blog, if you haven't already you should definitely check out what she has to say in this post on females rescuing themselves in modern interpretations of fairy tales...
EDIT: Megan has some information on The Dark Forest, including more details on two possible predecessors of Snow White

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I saw a documentary years ago that made the same claim. Apparently Maria Sophia Margarita married into the royal family, and was later poisoned with arsenic. The documentary made the same claim that the dwarves were inspired by child miners.

    However, I don't think the documentary was seriously or comprehensively researched - it was more sensational than academic. Still, it's an interesting theory. I'll try and dig up the documentary and link you to it.