That RL Snow White stuff sounds super interesting! If/when you find it, please send it to me! :D I think it's probably a bit unlikely to be the origin tho cuz the Snow White "myth" if you will is pretty old across many different cultures, but it may very well have formed some of the basis of what the most common one is today. One of my favorites is an old Welsh one where the red is "red as blood" and the black is "black as a raven" heheh
The researcher who did all leg work to find the truth behind the fairy tale decided to start out by focusing on the most fantastical part of the story… the Talking Mirror and the rest sort of accidentally fell into place.
Snow White was probably Margarete von Waldeck, which means that Prince Charming was probably Philip II of Spain. Margarete actually lived in Waldeck, a small but powerful town in northwestern Germany who’s main industry was … the world’s most beautiful mirrors. Her father owned several copper mines (a part of mirror making back then) who were mined mainly by the villages children.
Now child labor is a hell of a thing to even begin with but mining was a sort of “double damn”. When you start out in a mine, the average age was 5, and spending some 10+ hours a down down in child-sized holes crippled their growth rate. The few who survived to adulthood were malformed and often crippled.
Back then, mirror making was toxic. The chemicals used to silver-coat copper to the appropriate thickness killed those who made them with heavy metal poisoning, which as you know, can cause paleness, madness, your lips and hair turn funny colors, and so on. It’s doubtful she was ever in a mirror making room, but the sheer quantity of the chemicals needed for the towns industry to have been built on Mirror Making means she likely had incidental exposure to it.
Now we get to the really good stuff….
Margarete’s mother died when she was a kid and her father remarried. A rumor was going around when Margarete was 17 that her Father was in courtship talks to have her engaged to Phillip II. For whatever reason this pissed off her step-mum,
Katharina of Hatzfeld, and Margarete was forced to flee for her life to
Wildungen in Brussels.
This Snow White never got her prince - she died from a mysterious illness when she was just 21. To this day, no one knows who poisoned Margarete, but we can rule out one suspect: her stepmother was already dead and 100s of miles away. But it wouldn’t have taken much to kill her, even by 17 she had developed noticeable tremors in her hands simply by growing up where she did.
There was no Environmental Protection Act in those days.
As for the mirror…. it actually did talk… sort of.
Flattering statements were often carved into the elaborate frames of mirrors, in the border as close to the ‘glass’ as possible. And most of it still exists.
Now I will say that while Margarete seems to be the strongest candidate for Snow White, the more research that has gone into this, the more it seems the story has been tacked on to.
Snow White as we know her today, seems to be equal parts Margarete von Waldeck and Maria Sophia Margaretha Catharina von Ertha.
Maria also has an equally strong connection to Talking Mirrors and was said to have been just as beautiful by way of arsenic and lace.
Maria Sophia’s stepmother Claudia owned one of the Talking Mirrors, and her family has controlling interest in Lohr Mirror Manufacture.
But what about Maria’s seven dwarfs?
Lohr, the region not the company, was known as “The Spessart” has seven mountains. Some of the mountains contain rich natural resources which were mined. The town of Bieber located at the northwest border of the Spessart was once the region’s mining center. Mine seams, shafts and tunnels were usually very narrow, so only the smallest of miners could move around in them. Many of the miners in Bieber – just like miners in other places throughout Europe (and Germany) – were again…. children.
Sadly, Maria Sophia Margaretha Catharina von Ertha doesn’t have so much as a wikipedia page so thoroughly do people ID her as Snow White that any attempt to start one gets redirected to the Snow White page.
And the actual paper I was talking about earlier is no longer free read. The journal that printed it has put it in their pay-to-play archive. Thankfully, though, Awesome Stories (a teacher resource site) has the jist of it up. ibtimes s autoplay hell but still worth looking at.