Snow-White, Rose-Red and the dwarf. Early 20th century illustration by Jennie Harbour.

"Snow-White and Rose-Red" (German: "Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot") is a German fairy tale. It is included in the anthology of German folktales Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) compiled by the Brothers Grimm. Although "Snow-White and Rose-Red" does not appear in the 1812 first edition of that anthology, it appears in the 1837 third edition and all subsequent editions. A very similar and somewhat shorter story called "Der undankbare Zweig" ("The Ungrateful Dwarf") appears in Karolina Stahl's 1818 anthology Fabein, Märchen und Erzählagen für Kinder (Fairy Tales and Stories for Children). It is possible that Karolina Stahl invented the story because no versions of it are known to have existed in folklore before 1818.

The story's two title characters are two young sisters. In the winter, a friendly bear comes to spend the evenings in Snow-White and Rose-Red's cottage. In the summer, Snow-White and Rose-Red come to the aid of a dwarf in distress on three separate occasions. Each time, the unpleasant dwarf shows no gratitude towards the two girls. Even though Snow-White and Rose-Red manage to rescue the dwarf each time, he shows them nothing but anger. At the end of the story, a connection between the dwarf and the bear is revealed.

The character of Snow-White from "Snow-White and Rose-Red" is not to be confused with the title character from the Brothers Grimm's better known fairy tale "Snow White", which is often referred to in English as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".[1]


An old widow lives in a cottage near the forest. She has two rose trees. One bears white roses and the other bears red ones. The widow also has two daughters whose appearance reminds her of the roses on her two trees. For that reason, the girls are named Snow-White and Rose-Red.

They Brought the Broom and Swept the Bear's Coat Clean

Snow-White and Rose-Red clean the snow off the bear's back. 1914 illustration by Fiona F. Hart.

One snowy winter evening, there is a knock at the door of the cottage. Rose-Red goes to answer the door. To her horror and that of Snow-White, a bear walks into the cottage. The bear speaks. It tells them not to be afraid and says that it simply wants to come in out of the cold. The old widow feels sorry for the bear and allows it to sit by the fire. Snow-White and Rose-Red clean the snow off the bear's back. The girls soon realize that the bear poses no danger to them. They begin to play with it. The old widow allows the bear to sleep in front of the fire that night. In the morning, the bear leaves and goes back into the snowy forest.

The bear continues to come to the cottage each evening for the rest of the winter. Snow-White and Rose-Red look forward to the bear's visits and enjoy playing with it. When winter comes to an end, before the bear leaves one morning, it tells Snow-White that it will not be coming back for the entire summer. It explains that it has to guard its treasures from wicked dwarfs. In the winter, dwarfs remain trapped beneath the frozen ground. In the summer, they are able to emerge from under the ground and make mischief. As the bear leaves, some of its fur gets caught on the door. Snow-White thinks that she sees gold on the patch from which the bear's fur was torn.

Shortly afterwards, the old widow sends Snow-white and Rose-Red to fetch firewood. They see a dwarf. The dwarf had been chopping up a fallen tree into small pieces of firewood when his long white beard got stuck fast into a cut that he had made in the tree. Snow-White and Rose-Red try to pull the dwarf's beard out of the tree but are unable to do so. Eventually, Snow-White takes out her scissors and cuts off the end of the dwarf's beard. Instead of thanking the two girls for freeing him, the dwarf angrily complains about the loss of the end of his beard. He leaves, taking a sack of gold with him.

A few days later, Snow-White and Rose-Red are sent to catch some fish for dinner. They see the same dwarf again. This time, his beard has become tangled in a fishing line and he risks being dragged into the water by a large fish that has the end of the line in its mouth. Snow-White and Rose-Red are unable to untangle the dwarf's beard from the fishing line. Again, scissors have to be used to cut off more of the dwarf's beard. The dwarf is even angrier at the further loss of his beard. He leaves, taking a sack of pearls with him.

Soon afterwards, the old widow sends Snow-White and Rose-Red to the nearest town to go shopping. On the way, they see an eagle attempt to carry off the dwarf. The two girls are able to pull the dwarf out of the eagle's grasp. In the process, however, the dwarf's coat gets badly torn. The dwarf is horrified at the damage done to his coat. He shouts angrily at the girls before he goes into a hole in the ground, taking a sack of jewels with him.

Schneeweisschen und Rosenrot3

Rose-Red and Snow-White watch as the bear advances towards the dwarf. 1875 illustration by Alexander Zick.

On the way back from town, the girls see the dwarf again. He has emptied the contents of his sack on the ground and is admiring the jewels. Snow-White and Rose-Red cannot help but admire the jewels also as they sparkle in the early evening sunshine. The dwarf notices the girls and begins to shout at them. At that moment, a bear comes out of the forest and advances towards the dwarf. The dwarf begs the bear not to eat him. He offers the bear his jewels. He asks the bear why it wants to eat a small person like him and says, "Come take these wicked girls, they are tender morsels for you." The bear ignores the dwarf's words and kills him with one blow of its paw.

The two girls run away in terror. The bear calls out to them and they recognize its voice. When Snow-White and Rose-Red come back, instead of a bear, they see a young man dressed in gold. The young man explains that he is a prince . The dwarf stole his treasure and cast a spell on him that changed him into a bear. Now that the dwarf is dead, the spell has been lifted.

Snow-White marries the prince. Rose-Red marries his brother. The girls' mother goes to live with them. She takes her two rose trees with her and they continue to bear beautiful white and red roses.



1911 depiction of Rose-Red and Snow-White by Jessie Willcox Smith.

"Snow-White and Rose-Red' was adapted as an episode of the Japanese anime series Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics (Japanese: グリム名作劇場; Gurimu Meisaku Gekijō). The episode was first shown on TV Asahi on December 16, 1987.

The award-winning 2008 fantasy novel Tender Morsels by the Australian author Margo Lanagan is an adaptation of "Snow-White and Rose-Red".

Although in the writings of the Brothers Grimm there is no direct connection between the story "Snow-White and Rose-Red' and the "Snow White" story about the princess who goes to live with seven dwarfs,[1] connections have been made between the two stories in more recent popular culture. In the American TV movie Snow White: The Fairest of Them All (which first aired on ABC on March 11, 2002 and which was released theatrically in Europe and the Middle East), "Snow-White and Rose-Red" is referenced when a prince is transformed into a bear. In the American comic book series Fables (which was published by DC Comics under the Vertigo name between 2002 and 2015), the famous Snow White character has a less well-known twin sister named Rose Red. In the video game series Dark Parables, Snow White the Snow Queen, a character with similarities to the Brothers Grimm's Snow White and Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen, has a twin brother named Rose Red. In the American TV series Once Upon a Time, which has been airing on ABC since 2011, the friendship between Snow White and Red Riding Hood is intended to be an allusion to "Snow-White and Rose-Red".

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 In the Brothers Grimm's original German, the two different Snow White characters have different names. The princess who goes to live with seven dwarfs is named Schneewittchen. The sister of Rose-Red is named Schneeweißchen.

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