Born on January 12, 1628, Charles Perrault, is considered to be the “real” father of fairy tales. Perrault was the original author of fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty. He was born in Paris and was an attorney before becoming an author.
The Brothers Grimm is usually given credit for many of today’s fairy tales, but they did not actually create the stories they are credited with. Instead, they took stories that were popular and colorized the story to fit their time period and part of the world. Most of the stories that the Brothers Grimm wrote about had been passed down through oral history rather than written. The Grimm brothers were concerned these stories would get lost and forgotten, if not put into writing.
However, Perrault was the true author of many of the stories having written them at least 200 years before the Brothers Grimm started to put the tales into print. For example, Charles Perrault wrote, “Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre (Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper).” This story was part of a bigger book of tales called, “Histoires ou contest du temps passé (Stories or Tales of Past Times),” written in 1697.
The stories contained in the book were mostly a collection of tales that provided lessons in morality for the reader of the times. One such story was Little Red Riding Hood. In its original form the “big, bad wolf” was not really meant to be a “wolf” from the wild, but rather a metaphor for a man with bad intentions toward the young girl in the story. The story was created to remind young women that there were men in the world that would prey upon virtuous, young women.
Perrault wrote, “From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner. I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition – neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!”
This work eventually would become known as the “Mother Goose Tales” told to children around the world. The book was a collection of 80 tales including, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, Blue Beard, and less commonly known stories like, Little Thumb and Ricky of the Tuft.
This book of tales became very popular in its time. It was finally translated into English in 1729 by Robert Samber.
Perrault’s stories have changed over the years. He might not even recognize them, if he were to read one today. One of his most popular tales, Sleeping Beauty, has greatly changed since its original creation.
The original version of Sleeping Beauty is filled with a lot of vivid not-so-nice imagery. After Sleeping Beauty is awakened and married to her prince, there’s her evil mother-in-law, the Queen. The Queen is from the race of ogres. She wants her son to confide in her, but her son, the Prince, does not trust her. There is a part in the story where the evil Queen tries to eat her own grandchildren and Sleeping Beauty herself. This was not a kind or rational woman, and her demise in the original story is just as gory.
Apparently people of modern times did not think children would be able to handle such gore. Therefore, the evil Queen was “softened” a bit, and made less cruel.
Charles Perrault died on May 16, 1703, in Paris, France, but his fairy tales live on entertaining children of all ages all over the world.