One of the lesser known of Grimms’ fairy tales, “Allerleirauh ” is sometimes titled by its English translation, “Many Fur, ” referring to the mantle of pelts worn by the heroine, as well as her adopted name. A princess by birth, the young protagonist of this tale runs away from home to escape an unwanted marriage to her father, who is honoring his wife’s deathbed wish that he remarry only if he can find a woman as golden-haired and beautiful as she is. After a long period of mourning, the distraught king suddenly notices that his daughter is very like his wife, and decides that she is the one he must wed. The daughter (left) receives this news with great dismay.
“Allerleirauh” has never enjoyed the universal popularity of “Cinderella,” with which it shares a number of similarities: a life of servitude and poverty, magical dresses, grand balls. In the Grimms’ variation of the tale, the heroine has no fairy godmother to come to her aid— she has to rely on her own cunning and determination to win the king’s heart and regain her royal status.
My retelling remains essentially faithful to the Grimms’ version. And I have revelled in making the illustrations: in the depiction of the animals, landscapes, still lifes, dresses, the fur cloak, and the gentle beauty of the golden-haired girl. It is the illustrators’ happy prerogative to enrich the story, and to create a sustained vision that is both personal and universal.
I’d like to add, this story, and the paintings I have created to illustrate it, are NOT for children only!
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