Snow White Fairy Tale

Snow White

A mother wishes for a child as white as snow, as red as blood and as black as ebony wood. And so Snow White is born. Fast forward many years and she needs to guard her life from an envious queen…

Snow White is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a princess who is white as snow, red as blood and black as ebony wood. Jealous of her beauty her stepmother tries to kill her. She ends up living with seven dwarfs. After being poisoned, a prince appears and they live happily ever after.

Complete text Snow White

Snow White is born

Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the sky, a queen sat at a window sewing. The frame of the window was made of black ebony wood.

While she was sewing and looking out of the window at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow.

The red looked pretty upon the white snow and she thought to herself, “Would that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame.”

Soon after that she had a little daughter. She was as white as snow, red as blood and her hair was as black as ebony; and they called her Little Snow White. When the child was born, the queen died.

The queen and her mirror

After a year had passed the king took another wife. She was a beautiful woman, but proud and haughty. She could not bear the idea that anyone else would surpass her in beauty. She had a wonderful mirror. Standing in front of it she looked at herself and said:

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?”

The mirror answered:

“You, o queen, are the fairest of all!”

She was satisfied, for she knew that the mirror spoke the truth.

Snow White becomes more beautiful than her stepmother

Snow White grew up, becoming more and more beautiful. When she was seven years old she was as beautiful as the day and more beautiful than the queen herself. Once the queen asked her mirror:

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?”

it answered:

“You, my queen, are fair; it is true.
But Little Snow White is still a thousand times fairer than you.”

The queen was shocked and turned yellow and green with envy. From that hour, whenever she looked at Snow White, her heart heaved in her breast, she hated the girl so much.

Envy and pride grew higher and higher in her heart like a weed. She had no peace day or night.

The huntsman takes Snow White into the forest

She called a huntsman and said, “Take the child away into the forest; I will no longer have her in my sight. Kill her and bring me back her heart as a token.”

The huntsman obeyed and took her away. When he had drawn his knife and was about to pierce Snow White’s innocent heart, she began to weep. “Ah dear huntsman, leave me my life! I will run away into the wild forest and never come home again.”

As she was so beautiful the huntsman had pity on her. He said, “Run away, then, you poor child.”

“The wild beasts will soon have devoured you,” he thought. It seemed as if a stone had been rolled from his heart since he no longer needed to kill her. As a young boar just then came running by he stabbed it, cut out its heart and took it to the Queen as proof that the child was dead.

The cook had to salt it, and the wicked Queen ate it. She thought she had eaten the heart of Snow White.

Now the poor child was all alone in the great forest. So terrified that she looked at every leaf of every tree and did not know what to do. She began to run, over sharp stones and through thorns. The wild beasts ran past her, but did her no harm.

Snow White finds the cottage of the dwarfs

She ran as long as her feet would go until it was almost evening. Then she saw a little cottage and went inside to rest.

Everything in the cottage was small, but neater and cleaner than can be told. There was a table with a white cover. Seven little plates and on each plate a little spoon. Seven little knives and forks, seven little mugs. Against the wall stood seven little beds side by side, covered with snow-white counterpanes.

Snow White was so hungry and thirsty that she ate some vegetables and bread from each plate and drank a drop of wine out of each mug, for she did not wish to take all from one only. Then, as she was so tired, she laid herself down on one of the little beds. However none of them suited her; one was too long, another too short. At last she found that the seventh one was right, and so she remained in it, said a prayer and went to sleep.

Russian Dolls of the Seven Dwarfs

The seven dwarfs return

When it was quite dark the owners of the cottage came back. They were seven dwarfs who dug and delved in the mountains for ore.

They lit their seven candles. As it was now light within the cottage they saw that someone had been there, for everything was not in the same order in which they had left it.

The first said, “Who has been sitting on my chair?”
The second, “Who has been eating off my plate?”
The third, “Who has been taking some of my bread?”
The fourth, “Who has been eating my vegetables?”
The fifth, “Who has been using my fork?”
The sixth, “Who has been cutting with my knife?”
The seventh, “Who has been drinking out of my mug?”

The first looked around and saw that there was a little hole on his bed, and he said, “Who has been getting into my bed?”

The others came up and each called out, “Somebody has been lying in my bed too.”

But the seventh dwarf looked at his bed and saw Snow White, who was still sleeping in it. He called the others, who came running up. They cried out with astonishment, brought their seven little candles and let the light fall on Snow White.

“Oh, heavens! oh, heavens!” they cried, “what a lovely child!”

They were so glad that they did not wake her up, but let her sleep on in the bed. The seventh dwarf slept with his companions, one hour with each, and so got through the night.

Snow White lives with the dwarfs

When it was morning Snow White awoke. She was frightened when she saw the seven dwarfs. They were friendly however and asked her what her name was.

“My name is Snow White,” she answered.

“How have you come to our house?” the dwarfs said.

Then she told them that her stepmother had wished to have her killed, but that the huntsman had spared her life. She had run for the whole day, until at last she had found their dwelling.

The dwarfs said, “If you will take care of our house, cook, make the beds, wash, sew, and knit, and if you will keep everything neat and clean, you can stay with us and you shall want for nothing.”

“Yes,” said Snow White, “with all my heart,” and she stayed with them. She kept the house in order for them. In the mornings they went to the mountains and looked for copper and gold. In the evenings they came back and then their supper had to be ready. The girl was alone the whole day, so the good dwarfs warned her and said, “Beware of your stepmother, she will soon know that you are here; be sure to let no one come in.”

The queen finds out Snow White is still alive

The queen, believing that she had eaten Snow White’s heart, could not but think that she was again the first and most beautiful of all. She went to her mirror and said:

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?”

And the mirror answered:

“Oh, queen, you are the fairest of all I see,
But over the hills, where the seven dwarfs dwell,
Snow White is still alive and well,
And none is so fair as she.”

The queen was astounded. She knew that the mirror never lied, that the huntsman had betrayed her and that Snow White was still alive.

And so she thought and thought again how she might kill her. As long as she was not the fairest in the whole land, envy let her have no rest.

The queen tricks Snow White with bodice laces

When she had at last thought of something to do, she painted her face and dressed herself like an old peddler woman: no one could have recognized her. In this disguise she went over the seven mountains to the seven dwarfs, knocked at the door and called out, “Pretty things to sell, very cheap, very cheap.”

Snow White looked out of the window and called out, “Good day my good woman, what have you got to sell?”

“Good things, pretty things,” she answered; “bodice laces of all colours,” and she pulled out one which was woven of bright coloured silk.

“I may let the worthy old woman in,” Snow White thought. She unbolted the door and bought the pretty laces. “Child,” said the old woman, “what a fright you look; come, I will lace you properly for once.”

Snow White suspected nothing, but stood before her and let herself be laced with the new laces. The old woman laced so quickly and so tightly that Snow White lost her breath and fell down as if dead.

“Now I am the most beautiful,” the queen said to herself, and ran away.

Not long afterwards, when it was evening, the seven dwarfs came home. How shocked they were when they saw their dear Snow White lying on the ground. She neither stirred nor moved and seemed to be dead. They lifted her up. When they saw that she was laced too tightly, they cut the laces. She began to breathe a little and after a while came to life again.

When the dwarfs heard what had happened they said, “The old peddler woman was no one else than the wicked queen; take care and let no one come in when we are not with you.”

The wicked woman reached home and went in front of the mirror and asked:

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?”

And it answered as before:

“Oh, queen, you are the fairest of all I see,
But over the hills, where the seven dwarfs dwell,
Snow White is still alive and well,
And none is so fair as she.”

The queen tricks Snow White with a poisonous comb

When she heard that all her blood rushed to her heart with fear. Clearly Snow White was again alive. “But now,” she said, “I will think of something that shall put an end to you.” Helped by her understanding of witchcraft, she made a poisonous comb.

She disguised herself and took the shape of another old woman. So she went over the seven mountains to the seven dwarfs, knocked at the door, and cried, “Good things to sell, cheap, cheap!”

Snow White looked out and said, “Go away; I cannot let anyone come in.”

“I suppose you can look,” said the old woman. She pulled the poisonous comb out and held it up. It pleased the girl so well that she let herself be beguiled and opened the door. When they had made a bargain the old woman said, “Now I will comb you properly for once.”

Poor Snow White had no suspicion and let the old woman do as she pleased. Hardly had she put the comb in her hair than the poison in it took effect, and the girl fell down senseless. “You angel of beauty,” the wicked woman said, “you are done for now,” and she went away.

Fortunately it was almost evening and the seven dwarfs came home. When they saw Snow White lying as if dead upon the ground they at once suspected the stepmother. They looked and found the poisoned comb. Scarcely had they taken it out when Snow White came to herself and told them what had happened. They warned her once more to be on her guard and to open the door to no one.

At home the queen stood in front of the mirror and said:

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?”

It answered as before:

“Oh, queen, you are the fairest of all I see,
But over the hills, where the seven dwarfs dwell,
Snow White is still alive and well,
And none is so fair as she.”

When she heard the mirror speak like that she trembled and shook with rage. “Snow White shall die,” she cried, “even if it costs me my life!”

The queen tricks Snow White with a poisonous apple

She went into a secret, lonely room, where no one ever came. There she made a very poisonous apple. Outside it looked pretty, white with a red cheek, so that everyone who saw it longed for it; but whoever ate a piece of it would surely die.

When the apple was ready she painted her face, dressed herself up as a country woman and went over the seven mountains to the seven dwarfs. She knocked at the door. Snow White put her head out of the window and said, “I cannot let any one in; the seven dwarfs have forbidden me.”

“It is all the same to me,” answered the woman, “I shall soon get rid of my apples. There, I will give you one.”

“No,” said Snow White, “I dare not take anything.”

“Are you afraid of poison? Look, I will cut the apple in two pieces; you eat the red cheek, and I will eat the white.”

The apple was so cunningly made that only the red cheek was poisoned. Snow White longed for the fine apple and when she saw that the woman ate part of it she could resist no longer. She stretched out her hand and took the poisonous half. Immediately when she had a bit of it in her mouth she fell down dead.

The queen looked at her with a dreadful look, laughed aloud and said, “White as snow, red as blood, black as ebony-wood! This time the dwarfs cannot wake you up again.”

And when she asked the mirror at home:

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?”

it answered at last:

“Oh, queen, in this land you are the fairest of all.”

And her envious heart had rest, as much as an envious heart can have rest.

The dwarfs make a glass coffin

When they came home in the evening the dwarfs found Snow White lying on the ground; she breathed no longer and was dead. They lifted her up, looked to see whether they could find anything poisonous, unlaced her, combed her hair, washed her with water and wine, but it was all of no use. The poor child was dead and remained dead.

They laid her upon a bier and all seven of them sat round it and wept for her, three days long.

After that they were going to bury her, but she still looked as if she were living: she still had her pretty red cheeks. They said, “We can not bury her in the dark ground,” and they had a transparent coffin of glass made, so that she could be seen from all sides. They laid her in it and wrote her name upon it in golden letters, and that she was a princess.

Then they put the coffin out upon the mountain. One of them always stayed by it and watched it. Birds came too and wept for Snow White. First an owl, then a raven, and last a dove.

And now Snow White lay a long, long time in the coffin. She did not change, but looked as if she were asleep; for she was as white as snow, as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony.

A prince falls in love with Snow White

A prince came into the forest and went to the dwarfs’ house to spend the night. He saw the coffin on the mountain and the beautiful Snow White within it. He read what was written upon it in golden letters. Then he said to the dwarfs, “Let me have the coffin, I will give you whatever you want for it.”

But the dwarfs answered, “We will not part with it for all the gold in the world.”

Then he said, “Let me have it as a gift, for I cannot live without seeing Snow White. I will honor and prize her as my dearest possession.”

As he spoke in this way the good dwarfs took pity upon him and gave him the coffin.

The prince had it carried away by his servants on their shoulders. They stumbled over a tree-stump and with the shock the poisonous piece of apple which Snow White had bitten off came out of her throat. Soon she opened her eyes, lifted up the lid of the coffin, sat up, and was once more alive.

“Oh, heavens, where am I?” she cried. The prince said full of joy, “You are with me,” and told her what had happened. He said, “I love you more than everything in the world; come with me to my father’s palace, you shall be my wife.”

Snow White was willing and went with him. Their wedding was held with great show and splendor.

Her wicked stepmother was also invited to the feast. When she had arrayed herself in beautiful clothes she went before the mirror, and said:

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?”

The mirror answered:

“Oh, queen, of all here the fairest you are,
But the young queen is fairer by far.”

The wicked woman uttered a curse. She felt so wretched, so utterly wretched, that she knew not what to do. At first she would not go to the wedding at all, but she had no peace. She had to go to see the young queen.

When she went in she recognized Snow White. She stood still with rage and fear and could not stir. But iron slippers had already been put upon the fire. They were brought in with tongs and set before her. Then she was forced to put on the red hot shoes and to dance until she dropped down dead.

Tips for Telling Snow White

Storyteller Rudolf Roos
  • This is one of the most known fairy tales in the Western world. Other variants from different countries and cultures can inspire you to give your own twist to this tale. You can find some of them online here at Prof. Ashliman’s folklore site.
  • How old is Snow White throughout the story? This is not clear, but it is important. When editing and formatting the fairy tale I left out the word ‘little’ because if the prince falls in love with her, she can’t be that little. A storyteller should know these kind of things about the stories they tell.
  • There are some very strong images in this story. Take some time to close your eyes and imagine the scenes of this story. Don’t watch the Disney movie or other adaptations, create your own images in the theater of your head.
A telling of Snow White to children

All Questions Answered

Who wrote the story Snow White?

The Brothers Grimm published it in the first edition of their fairy tales. Before that variants of this story were known and published in many other countries and cultures.

When was Snow White written?

The Brothers Grimm included it in the 1812 edition of the Grimm’s fairy tales. They edited it in the later editions. However it was told long before their publication.

Why do they call her Snow White?

Her mother wished for a child as white as snow, as red as blood and as black as ebony wood. Her skin became as white as snow, that is why she is called Snow White.

Are there more fairy tales about Snow White?

The Brothers Grimm included in their collection a fairy tale called ‘Snow White and Rose Red’. It is totally different though and about different characters.

What are the names of the seven dwarfs?

In the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of Snow White they have no names. In the Disney movie they are named Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy and Dopey.

Is the evil queen the mother or stepmother of Snow White?

In the version that the Brothers Grimm included in the 1812 edition of their fairy tales, it was the mother of Snow White who was envious of her beauty. In later editions of their fairy tales the Brothers Grimm changed this. And so the mother dies in childbirth and a stepmother becomes the evil queen.

Does the prince kiss Snow White?

No! In the Brothers Grimm fairy tale the servants stumble with the coffin and that causes Snow White to awake. No kisses by princes.

More useful information

Fairy tales with a hunter

Fairy tales with a pig

Fairy tales with a witch

Photo credits: Jill Wellington from Pixabay

The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

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