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18th-Century Gravestone Could Belong to 'Snow White'

It's now on display in Germany
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2019 1:54 PM CDT
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Choose what's more surprising: that an 18th-century woman may have inspired the tale of Snow White, or that she actually got her own gravestone—a rarity for women of that era—and it's now on display. ABC News has the story of Maria Sophia von Erthal, a German baroness born in 1725. Among the similarities with the Grimm fairy tale written in 1812: Her father remarried a woman who was more partial to her own children; he owned a mirror factory and had a mirror inscribed with the French words for "pride"; and von Erthal is believed to have helped area children who worked in the area's mines. Further, the Brothers Grimm lived 60 miles west of von Erthal's town of Lohr am Main, making it feasible that they would have heard of her.

The Bamberg Diocesan Museum in Bavaria has put her refurbished gravestone (see it here) on display, and says it's worth doing so even if the Snow White connection doesn't hold up, noting the historical significance of a woman having a gravestone at the time. Still, the BBC quotes the museum as saying von Erthal's life "became the nucleus of Snow White." But her story didn't exactly end with Prince Charming: She went blind early in life and died in 1796 while living in a monastery. The museum translates the inscription on the stone, which was recently donated to it: "The noble heroine of Christianity: here she rests after the victory of Faith, ready for transfigured resurrection." (Their names are on Tolkien's grave. Now, they're a book.)

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