A Brief History of Snow White: A Very Unscholarly Treatise

What the Brothers Grimm began with Snow White in 1812 has become a well-loved and perennial favorite all around the world. Now we offer our version with Lumi White, but where did this story come from, and how did it begin? Let’s find out.

The Grim Tales of the Brothers Grimm

In 1810, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm worked under the folklorist Clemens Brentano to compile a collection of Germanic folk tales. Brentano promptly then forgot about it. Not to be deterred, the Grimm brothers set out to publish the tales on their own. The first version of Snow White appeared, along with other classic tales in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812. It was an instant hit. This was due mainly to the artistic hand of Wilhelm, who breathed life into the tales and added literary touches. It’s believed that Snow White, like many of the collected tales, originated during the medieval period.

The brothers were not purists and changed the stories often from edition to edition. The Snow White in the 1812 edition is different from the final 1857 one. For example, the Queen in the 1812 edition has Snow White’s actual mother held captive, not step-mother. The Queen also tells the huntsman to stab Snow White over and over again and to bring her organs over so that she may eat them. Lovely. And in the final 1857 version, the Queen is punished by being made to dance with red hot iron shoes on until she dies. Not to mention, there is no kiss, Snow White awakens when her glass coffin is dropped (or in the 1812 version, a servant slaps her), dislodging the bit of poison apple from her throat.

While the Grimms’ give us the earliest written version of the Snow White story, similar themes and elements show up in other stories from around the world. For example, the Malay tale, Bidasari, tells the story from 1750 CE of a witch queen who asks her magic mirror who is the prettiest lady in the kingdom.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, Disney Takes on Snow

It’s no surprise that Snow White became solidified in the public consciousness with the 1937 release of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While the House the Mouse Built may have started with Mickey, it was Snow White that rocketed Disney to the heights of success it enjoys today. The first full-length feature animated film could have easily destroyed the company if it had been a financial flop. But it wasn’t, and it added to the Snow White folklore, giving us names for the dwarfs, Snow’s affinity with animals, and love’s first kiss.

So How Does Lumi Add to This Tradition

Lumi White is not a direct adaptation of the classic to a graphic novel format. Lumi uses the Snow White story as a springboard launches us into new areas and new ideas. We still have a jealous Queen, but she’s not related to Lumi; we have a Princess instead of a Prince; the mirror exists, but is manipulative and ambitious; Lumi has a special relationship with animals; and….well, you’ll just have to read to find out more.

The history of the Snow White story is rich and enduring and we’re proud to be a part of it.

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