Classic books: Snow White crowned Britain’s favourite fairy tale & Evil Queen beats Maleficent as the scariest villain

A recent survey has revealed that Snow White is Britain’s favourite fairy tale and the Evil Queen in Snow White is the scariest character beating Maleficent (which has now being featured in a new Disney movie starring Angelina Jolie that we have recently reviewed). The respondents certainly didn’t see the latest Disney Maleficent before participating in the research otherwise they might have chosen that as the most evil villain. Snow White collage 21.48.55

Not surprisingly Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been named the nation’s favourite fairy tale according to new research by tuition provider Explore Learning. The ‘fairy tales and fables’ survey was undertaken in May with a sample size of 2,000 – 1,000 parents and 1,000 non-parents –  to mark the final week to enter the National Young Writers’ Award. This competition was aimed at children aged five to 14 where they were asked to write a 500 word story to the theme – ‘fairy tales and fables’ – and will be judged by best-selling author, Liz Pichon.

The original Snow White by the German Brothers Grimm was published it first in 1812. I read the original German version and I can tell you that it was very dark Gothic and certainly not suitable to a young audience. In fact it was quite scary even for adults. Originally the villain was Snow White’s jealous mother who took her to the woods to gather flowers and to then abandon her. The change to a stepmother in later editions was made to tone down the story for children.

Disney’s variation of Snow White from 1937 gave the dwarfs names and included a singing Snow White. Instead of her lungs and liver, as written in the original story, the huntsman is asked by the queen to bring back Snow White’s heart. She is discovered by the dwarfs sleeping in their little beds after cleaning the house, not vandalising it. In the Disney movie the evil queen tries to kill Snow White only once by a poisoned apple without success. She then dies by falling down a cliff, after the dwarfs had chased her through the forest. In the original tale, the queen is forced to dance to death. In the Grimm’s finale, Snow White does not wake up thanks to the loving Prince’s kiss but she spits out the poisoned apple on the way to the castle while the Prince transports her body in the coffin.

Quite gruesome right?! I bet you did not expect that finale! I certainly didn’t and thank Disney for embellishing the original tale which seems more like a story being told by Stephen King. Sleeping Beauty

In the survey Cinderella was named second and Jack and the Beanstalk third favourite story.

When asked who the scariest fairy tale character of all time was, a mere 6% named Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis, Maleficent the most frightening, with the Evil Queen in Snow White being crowned the scariest – followed by the witch in Hansel and Gretal and the big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.

Despite the enduring popularity of fairy tales, 62% of parents revealed they do NOT read to their young children every night while more than two thirds (67%) of parents said they believed that today’s tales are “too sanitised” for children.

No matter how old you are, the UK loves a good fairy tale and partly due to the classics being made into blockbuster movies, their popularity has endured through the generations.  However, it is worrying to see that parents are not taking quality time out of their day to read a story to their children.  Reading to your child instils a love of books from a young age and is a fantastic way to bond with your child before bedtime.”

The research also found that reading is far from a dead hobby with nearly half (47%) of people across the UK reading for pleasure every day.  Scotland was named the most literary country with more than half (55%) saying they read daily for fun – compared with 51% in England, 40% in Northern Ireland and 39% in Wales.

Three quarters (75%) of parents say their children either never write stories or only do when tasked to by their teachers – while a whopping 96% of parents say that writing stories helps develop their children’s imagination.


The full list of the nation’s top 10 favourite fairy tales is:

1. Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
2. Cinderella
3. Jack & the Beanstalk
4. Beauty & the Beast
5. Sleeping Beauty
6. Hansel & Gretal
7. Little Red Riding Hood
8. Billy Goats Gruff
9. Rapunzel
10. The Little Mermaid


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