Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are depicted on this 1962 West German postage stamp.

"Snow White" (German: "Schneewittchen" or "Sneewittchen";[1] also published in English as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Little Snow White", "Snowwhite", "Snow-Drop" and "Snowdrop") is a German fairy tale. It is included in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the 1812 anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm. Similar stories exist in Albanian, Armenian, Greek, Italian, French, Russian, Scottish, Indian and Malaysian folklore.

The story's title character and protagonist is a princess who is the most beautiful person in her kingdom. Snow White's stepmother,[2] the Queen and the second most beautiful person in the kingdom, becomes extremely jealous of Snow White and grows to despise her because of her superior beauty. The Queen orders a huntsman to murder Snow White. The huntsman takes pity on Snow White and allows her to escape into the forest. She takes refuge in a cottage that belongs to seven dwarfs. The Seven Dwarfs allow Snow White to stay as their housekeeper. They warn Snow White that she is probably still in danger from the Queen. When the Queen finds out that Snow White is still alive, she goes to the Dwarfs' house in disguise to attempt to murder the princess herself.

"Snow White" is one of the best known and most popular fairy tales in the world. It is frequently referenced and parodied in popular culture and has been adapted to other media numerous times. The most well known of those adaptations continues to be the 1937 animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs produced by Walt Disney.


Snow White Mirror 3

The Queen and her magic mirror. Illustration from an 1852 Icelandic translation of "Snow White".

Snow White is a princess with hair as black as ebony, skin as white as snow and lips as red as blood. Her mother dies while giving birth to her. Snow White's father, the King, marries again. His second wife, the new Queen, is beautiful but proud and haughty.[2] The Queen has a magic mirror. Each day, the Queen asks the magic mirror who the most beautiful person in the country is. Each day, the magic mirror replies that the Queen is the most beautiful person in the land. One day, however, the Queen asks the magic mirror who the most beautiful person in the land is and the mirror answers that the most beautiful person in the country is Snow White. The Queen becomes incredibly jealous of Snow White and grows to hate her intensely. She decides that she wants to have Snow White killed.

The Queen orders a huntsman to take Snow White into the forest, kill her and bring back her heart as proof that the deed has been done. The huntsman takes Snow White into the forest. When he is about to stab her, however, Snow White pleads for her life. The huntsman takes pity on her and allows her to flee. He kills a boar and brings its heart back to the Queen. The Queen cooks the heart and eats it.

Franz Jüttner Schneewittchen 3

The Seven Dwarfs discover the sleeping Snow White. Early 20th century illustration by the German artist Franz Jüttner.

Snow White runs through the forest for a long time. She eventually comes to an empty cottage and goes inside it. She eats some of the food and drinks some of the wine in the cottage and goes to sleep in one of its seven little beds. The occupants of the cottage come home. They are seven dwarfs who work all day mining for copper and gold. The Seven Dwarfs realize that an intruder has come into their cottage. When they see Snow White, however, they allow her to carry on sleeping and do not disturb her. When Snow White awakes the following morning, she is at first frightened by the Dwarfs. They are friendly to her, however, and she tells them how she came to be in their cottage. The Dwarfs tell Snow White that she can stay in their cottage if she cooks and cleans for them. They warn Snow White to be careful because the Queen will probably try to kill her again.

Schneewitchen (1)

The Queen disguised as a peddler-woman and Snow White. Late 19th century illustration by the German artists Heinrich Leutemann and Carl Offerdinger.

From her magic mirror, the Queen finds out that Snow White is still alive and living with the Seven Dwarfs. The Queen decides that she has to kill Snow White herself. She disguises herself as an old peddler-woman. She goes to the home of the Seven Dwarfs while the Dwarfs are out and Snow White is at home. The disguised Queen tells Snow White that she has bodice laces for sale. She tells Snow White that her bodice is badly laced up and offers to lace it up for her properly. The Queen pulls the bodice laces so tight that Snow White is unable to breathe and collapses, apparently dead. The Dwarfs return home. They are able to revive Snow White by loosening the laces of her bodice. Snow White tells them what happened. They realize that the old peddler-woman was the Queen in disguise and warn Snow White to be more careful in future.

The Queen's magic mirror tells her that Snow White is still alive. She makes another attempt to kill the princess. The Queen uses magic to create a poisoned comb and disguises herself as a peddler-woman again. In spite of the Seven Dwarfs' warning to her, Snow White lets the woman into the cottage and takes the comb from her. As soon as she puts the comb in her hair, Snow White again falls down and appears to be dead. When the Seven Dwarfs return home, they are able to revive Snow White by removing the poisoned comb from her hair.

Schneewittchen (Meggendorfer) 11

The prince sees Snow white in her glass coffin. Early 20th century illustration by the German artist Luther Meggendorfer.

When the Queen finds out from her magic mirror that Snow White is still alive, she is overcome with rage. She creates an apple that is half red and half white. The white half of the apple is safe to eat but the red half is deadly poisonous. The Queen again disguises herself as old peddler-woman and again goes to the Seven Dwarf's house. Snow White is more cautious this time. The disguised Queen, however, convinces her that the apple is safe to eat when she cuts it in two and eats the white half. As soon as Snow White bites into the red half of the apple, she again falls down and appears to be dead. This time, the Seven Dwarfs are unable to revive Snow White. They give her up as dead but cannot bear the thought of burying her. Instead, they place her body in a glass coffin so that it can still be seen. The Dwarfs take turns to watch over the coffin constantly.

After some time, a king's son comes along. He sees Snow White in the glass coffin and is captivated by her beauty. He offers to buy the coffin from the Dwarfs. Although the Dwarfs do not want to sell it, they take pity on the prince when he says that he can no longer live without seeing Snow White. They allow him to take the coffin.

While carrying the coffin, one of the prince's servants stumbles. The jolt causes the piece of poisoned apple to come out of Snow White's mouth and she is revived once more. The king's son declares his love for Snow White and she agrees to marry him.

The Queen goes to Snow White's wedding. At the wedding, the Queen is forced to put on red hot shoes and made to dance until she drops down dead.


The best known adaptation of "Snow White" continues to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the 83-minute animated musical fantasy film from Walt Disney Productions that premiered on December 21, 1937 and went on nationwide release in the United States on February 4, 1938. It was the first full length cell animated feature film and was a great critical and commercial success.

Sergei Eisenstein, the acclaimed Soviet director and film theorist, declared Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to be the greatest film ever made. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Musical Score. At the 11th Academy Awards on February 23, 1939, Walt Disney received an Academy Honorary Award for "a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field." The award took the form of a full size Oscar statuette with seven smaller statuettes placed in a row beside it. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was ranked number forty-nine in the American Film Institute's "100 Years... 100 Movies" best list issued in 1998. It was ranked as number one animated film in the American Film Institute's "Top 10 Top 10" list issued in 2008. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to be preserved in the National Film registry along with other movies that are deemed to be "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

During its original theatrical release, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs grossed US$3,500,000 at the box office in the United Sates and Canada. As a result of its many theatrical re-releases, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has gone on to earn US$418,000,000 at the box office worldwide.


Image of Disney's Snow White taken from a 1958 trailer for the film's re-release.

The success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs led the American animator Max Fleischer to produce his own animated feature film based on Gulliver's Travels and inspired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to produce a live-action adaptation of the children's fantasy novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Both of those films were released in 1939.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to be the first in a long-running and ongoing series of Disney theatrical animated movies that has included animated films inspired by The Adventures of Pinocchio, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", The Wind in the Willows, "Cinderella", Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Peter Pan, "Sleeping Beauty", The Once and Future King, The Jungle Book, The Rescuers, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, "The Little Mermaid", Beauty and the Beast, "Aladdin", The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan of the Apes, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, "The Frog King", "Rapunzel", Romeo and Juliet and "The Snow Queen".

Two Princesses and a Queen

A child poses with performers dressed as the Evil Queen and Snow White at Disneyland, Anaheim, California.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has also spawned a Disney franchise. A stage musical based on the 1937 film was first performed in St. Louis, Missouri in 1969. It opened at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on October 18, 1979 and ran for a total of 106 performances there. One of those performances was filmed and released on Walt Disney Home Video in 1981. An animated series called The 7D, which chronicles the Seven Dwarfs' adventures in a time before they met Snow White, first aired on Disney TV channels in the United States between December 2, 2014 and November 5, 2016. Characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs have also appeared in several other Disney television programs, films and video games. Attractions based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be found at Disneyland, Anaheim, California, Walt Disney World, Florida, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has also influenced subsequent adaptations of "Snow White", particularly in its depiction of the Seven Dwarfs as clearly defined individuals with distinct personalities and names that reflect those personalities.

Other animated films based on "Snow White" include Betty Boop in Snow White (USA 1933), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (USA 1943,)[3] A Snow White Christmas (USA 1980), Happily Ever After (USA 1990), The Magic Riddle (Australia 1991)[4], Snow White (Japan/USA 1995), Snow White: The Sequel (a pornographic cartoon, Belgium/France/UK 2007), Happily N'Ever After 2: Snow White - Another Bite @ the Apple (USA 2009) and The Seventh Dwarf (Germany 2014)

La petite Blanche-Neige (1910)

Screenshot from the 1910 French silent film Little Snow White.

Live-action films based on "Snow White" include Snow White (USA 1902), Little Snow White (France 1910), Snow White (USA 1916), The Seven Dwarfs to the Rescue (Italy 1951), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (West Germany 1955), Snow White and the Three Stooges (USA 1961), Snow White (East Germany 1962), The New Adventures of Snow White (a sex comedy, West Germany 1969) Pamuk Prenses ve 7 Cüceler (Turkey 1970),[5] Neberte nám princeznú (Czechoslovakia 1981),[6] Canon Movie Tales: Snow White (Israel/USA 1987), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (USA 1997), Snow White: The Fairest of Them All (Canada/Germany/USA 2001), 7 Dwarves - Men Alone in the Wood (Germany 2004), Sydney White (USA 2007), Blanche Neige (France/Germany 2009)[7], Blancanieves (France/Spain 2012)[8] Grimm's Snow White (USA 2012), Mirror, Mirror (USA 2012), Snow White: A Deadly Summer (USA 2012), Snow White and the Huntsman (USA 2012) and The Huntsman: Winter's War (USA 2014).

Schneewittchen, a German-language opera based on "Snow White" with music and libretto by the Swiss composer Heinz Holliger, was first performed at the Zurich Opera House on October 17, 1998.

"Snow White" was adapted as the ballet The Magic Mirror (French: Le Miroir Magique), with music by the Russian composer Arseny Koreshchenko. It was first performed on February 22, 1903 (February 9, 1903 according to the Julian calendar that was still in use in the Russian Empire at the time) at the Imperial Marinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. The first performance was a disaster, with poor staging and scenery and dancers wearing unfinished costumes, that drew heckles and even calls to cut the performance short from the audience. The ballet never became popular in St. Petersburg. It was, however, performed thirty-six times in Moscow between 1905 and 1911.

Snøhvit og de syv dvergene - Snow White and the seven dwarves (34448617885)

Late 19th century depiction of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by the Norwegian artist Jenny Nyston.

A two part adaptation of "Snow White" makes up the thirteenth and fourteenth episodes of the American animated TV series The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. The episodes were first shown on NBC on January 2 and January 9, 1965.

The fifth episode of the third season of the American children's anthology drama series Faerie Tale Theatre is an adaptation of "Snow White". The episode stars Elizabeth McGovern as Snow White, Vanessa Redgrave as the Queen and Vincent Price as the narrator and the voice of the magic mirror. it was first shown on the Showtime channel on July 16, 1984.

A three part adaptation of "Snow White" makes up the tenth, eleventh and twelfth episodes of the first season of the anime series Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics (Japanese: グリム名作劇場; Gurimu Meisaku Gekijō) . The episodes were first shown on TV Asahi in Japan on December 23 and December 30, 1987 and January 6, 1988.

"Snow White" was adapted as the twelfth episode of the first season of the American animated TV series Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. The episode was first shown on HBO on May 29, 1995. The story is set in the American southwest and has a predominantly Native American and First Nations voice cast.

The eighth episode of the German animated TV series Simsala Grimm is an adaptation of "Snow White". It was first shown on the channel Kinderkanal in Germany on July 14, 2000.

The American sitcom The Charmings chronicles what happens when Snow White and her husband Prince Charming wake up after being put into an enchanted sleep for a thousand years by Snow White's wicked stepmother. When they wake up, they find themselves living in a suburb of present-day Los Angeles. The comedy series originally aired on ABC between March 20, 1987 and February 11, 1988.

The 52 episode anime series The Legend of Snow White (Japanese: 白雪姫の伝説; Shirayuki Hime no Densetsu) originally aired on NHK in Japan between April 6, 1994 and March 29, 1995.

The British-German-American miniseries The 10th Kingdom features Snow White, her stepmother and descendants of Snow White as characters. The miniseries premiered on NBC in the United States on February 27, 2000.

Ginnifer Goodwin by David Shankbone 2

2007 photograph of Ginnifer Goodwin who plays Snow White in the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time.

The 13 episode anime series Prétear: The New Legend of Snow White (Japanese: 新白雪姫伝説プリーティア; Shin Shirayuki-hime Densetsu Purītia) was originally shown in Japan by the satellite broadcaster Wowow between April 4 and June 27, 2001. The series is based on a manga by Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse that was originally published between May 2000 and July 2001.

Snow White, also known as Mary Margaret Blanchard (played by Ginnifer Godwin), her stepmother the Evil Queen (played by Lana Parrilla) and her husband Prince Charming (played by Josh Dallas) are recurring characters in the American fantasy drama TV series Once Upon a Time that has been airing on ABC since October 23, 2011.

Works of modern literature inspired by "Snow White" include the poem "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" by the American writer Anne Sexton that is included in the 1971 anthology Transformations, a verse parody of the story by the British author Roald Dahl that is included in his 1982 anthology of children's poems Revolting Rhymes, the 1983 short story "Red as Blood" by the British author Tanith Lee, the 1994 short story "Snow, Glass, Apples" by the British author Neil Gaiman, the 2001 fantasy novel The Serpent's Shadow by the American author Mercedes Lackey, the 2003 novel Mirror, Mirror by the American author Gregory Maguire, the 2004 young adult fantasy novel Mira, Mirror by the American author Mette Ivie Harrison, the 2006 novel Fairest by the American author Gail Carlson Levine, the 2013 children's novel Timakistan by the Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason, the 2014 novel Boy, Snow, Bird by the British author Helen Oyeyemi and the 2015 young adult science fiction novel Winter by the American author Marissa Meyer.

See also


  1. Schneewittchen, which literally means "Little Snow White" and was written as Sneewittchen in the Brothers Grimm's time, is a Low German name. The standard German version of the name is Schneeweißchen. The version of the story in the 1812 first edition of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) is called Sneewittchen (Schneeweißchen). In the story in all editions of the anthology, the standard German translation Schneeweißchen follows the character's name in parentheses the first time that it appears.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The lines about Snow White's mother dying while giving birth to her and about her father remarrying are not in the version of the story from the 1812 first edition of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales). They were added to the story for the 1819 second edition of the anthology. It appears that in the version of the story in the 1812 first edition of the Grimms' anthology, Snow White's jealous enemy who repeatedly tries to kill her is her own biological mother.
  3. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs is one of the so called "Censored Eleven" Warner Bros. cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s. The eleven cartoons were withdrawn from syndication by their rights' holder in 1968 because the entire premise of each cartoon relies on racially offensive stereotypes, thus making the cartoons impossible to edit in order to remove objectionable content. The "Censored Eleven" cartoons have not been shown on network television since 1968. They have, however, been made available on VHS and DVD and are not hard to find online.
  4. The Magic Riddle draws on elements from "Snow White", "Cinderella", "Sleeping Beauty", "Little Red Riding Hood", "The Ugly Duckling" and The Adventures of Pinocchio.
  5. The film's title is Turkish for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Pamuk Prenses literally means "Cotton Princess'.
  6. The Czech title translates as "Let the princess stay".
  7. Blanche Neige is French for "Snow White".
  8. Blancanieves is Spanish for "Snow White".

External links