The Truth Behind Cinderella

Cinderella – that fairy tale you never got bored of hearing seems all beautiful and special, not until you hear the error that was made in writing it! This small error has created a story we have passed on from generation to generation, making a story that is a childhood classic.

When you think of Cinderella, you cast your mind back to your childhood and think of a very glamorous young woman and what props up first, is the glass slipper. But all is not what it seems like it is!

With many versions in different countries since a long time, the earliest evidence of this fairy tale hails from China. Its author Tuan Ch’eng-shih wrote it in the middle of the 9th century A.D. Funnily enough, there is no fairy god mother and instead this version features a magical fish instead.

Cinderella has wormed its way through to popular media culture and there was a film on it by Disney in 1950. This beautiful animated film was based on a budget of $ 2.9 million – clearly stating the expectations that lay on this children’s classic. This isn’t all, Cinderella was based on a French opera called ‘Cendrillon‘with four acts by Jules Massenet in 1894-95.

But here is the actual part that is the truth that you never heard as a child. The versions we know best now of Cinderella was by a French man named Charles Perrault in 1697. Perrault’s versions involved the inclusion of the pumpkin, the fairy god-mother and the coveted glass slippers. But were they really glass?  In those days, it was common for a story to be passed down by conversation and it is said that in the story, Cinderella actually wore fur boots or ‘pantoufle en vair’ which were meant to be the uncomfortable footwear. The French word for fur is ‘vair’ but when the story was translated to English as it popularly is now, the word ‘vair’ was mistaken for another French word ‘verre’ which means glass! Not so glamorous now is it?

Apparently, this theory has been disproven. With full honesty, I don’t know! But you can’t stop that tiny thing in your brain from telling you that you want to believe this story of fur boots rather than the delicate glass slippers. I leave you to make up your mind whether you want to believe this story but personally, as an avid French lover, I know how this mistake could have been made and I really believe that this tiny error in translation has created a magical fairy tale we all know to love.

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3 Comments
  1. Posted July 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I like the glass slippers idea def. But now im curious to read the origional story too!

  2. Posted August 1, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    you have done really well to display this to bring it to attention!

  3. Julia
    Posted March 26, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I can’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading in a book about a very old fairy tale with the cinderella theme, I’m not sure where it originated. But I know Cindy murdured her first stepmother with instructions from her second who ends up being even crueler to her. I’ll have to find the story.

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