Thursday, 29 December 2011

Guest Post: Marissa Meyer - 10 Things You May Not Know About Cinderella

Marissa Meyer is the author of Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles. Though it may be 1
of 2,000 takes on this popular tale, she thinks readers will still find some things to be surprised
by. Follow her on Twitter (@marissa_meyer) or become a fan at

10 Things You May Not Know About Cinderella

I’ve been an enormous fan of fairy tales and their retellings since I was a child, and between that and the research I completed for Cinder—my debut novel and a futuristic retelling of “Cinderella”—I’ve amassed my share of random trivia tidbits about this popular tale. Here are
some of my favorite factoids:

- Some anthropologists believe that every culture in the world has some version of the “rags to riches” tale.

- According to fairy tale scholars, the oldest recorded story of Cinderella is from 9th-century China. In this tale, called “Yeh-shen,” the heroine’s magical helper is a fish rather than a fairy godmother.

- Speaking of China, although European cultures did have rags-to-riches stories previously, some believe that the foot-that-fits-the-shoe sequence first came to Europe from traders to Asia. The theory is that it began with the tradition of women’s foot-binding that was prevalent in China’s upper classes for hundreds of years.

- The iconic fairy godmother and glass slipper come from the 1697 Charles Perrault version of the story. In the Grimm version, Cinderella’s shoes were instead made of pure gold and were bestowed on her by the spirit of her dead mother, manifested as a white bird.

- Though we typically think of Cinderella losing her shoe on the stairs by accident, in the Grimm tale it was actually a trap laid by the prince. After two nights of watching his dream girl run off and disappear, he decided have pitch smeared on the steps, which led to Cinderella’s shoe getting stuck.

- In some of the earlier and gorier versions of the tale (including Grimm), the two stepsisters cut off their heel and toe, respectively, with a knife in order to squeeze their foot into the slipper. They were found out when two pigeons (friends of Cinderella’s) tattled on them to the prince and he discovered blood pooling out of the shoe.

- Those two pigeons play another gruesome role in the story: on the royal wedding day, they peck out the stepsisters’ eyes as retribution for how they treated Cinderella. This is in direct contrast to the Perrault version of the tale, in which the always gracious Cinderella finds husbands for her sisters instead.

- According to IMDB, Disney’s Cinderella cost nearly $3 million dollars to produce. If the movie hadn’t been a success, it likely would have been the end of the studio.

- On the topic of Disney, Ilene Woods was selected as the voice of Cinderella out of 309 girls— but she didn’t audition. She’d made some song recordings for her friends, who sent them to Disney without telling her.

- Although I’ve been unable to find any statistical evidence of this, Cinderella is believed to be the most frequently retold fairy tale in history. Some estimate that there are over 2,000 versions of the tale in existence, running the gamut from poetry to big Hollywood productions, Broadwaymusicals to cartoons, picture books to romance novels.

I, for one, am perfectly all right with being a part of that statistic.

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