The Tale of Rose Red

Since long ago in a far away land, roses symbolized passion, kindness, and love.

Being so, it is no wonder two sisters were named after such a flower. Snow White embodied sympathy. A gentle young child, she enjoyed the indoors and assisting their mother with tasks. Complementing her sister, Rose Red cherished prancing about in the fields and playing in the forest.

They were the best of friends, often hand in hand.

Perhaps ’twas the warmth of their love and not the fire that drew a hulking bear to the cottage door.

He knocked at the door. Thinking him human, Rose Red had begun to open the door when his black head thrust through.

Snow White cowered behind a bed.

But the bear assured the family he meant them no harm. Humbly, he asked to stretch out in front of the fire. His request was granted. The girls even approached him to brush the snow from his fur coat.

Each night followed the same pattern.


He would arrive in the evening. Once the chill had left him, the sisters played games with him. Come morning, the giant would take his leave. So it continued until spring.

The bear left then to guard his treasures from greedy dwarves.

Snow White and Rose Red returned to their frolicking. During one of their outings, they met with a most ill-tempered dwarf. His beard was caught in a tree branch. It proved impossible to untangle. With no other option, the girls cut him free.

Of course, one could imagine how this further enraged the dwarf. He began to berate them for their insolence. His tirade was silenced when a bear attacked, killing him.

The sisters were quite frightened until they realized the bear was their winter friend.

As they caught their breath, the bear’s thick hide fell away and a prince in gilded armor stood before them. For you see, the dwarf had placed a terrible spell on the prince. With his death, the spell broke.

Snow White married the prince, and Rose Red his brother. Together with their mother, they lived happily ever—according to the Grimm Brothers, that is.

23 thoughts on “The Tale of Rose Red

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  1. My dear grandparents had a set of fairy tale books that were bought in the early 1950’s. This tale was in one of them. I always loved the sisters’ names… Snow White… Rose Red. Very, very charming tale!

    1. When I saw the title of “Rose Red”, way in the back of my memory, I did recall there was a story of Snow White & Rose Red, possibly in the same fairy tale book from the 1950s that another reader referred to. But I couldn’t remember the story itself at all. I’m in my mid-60s now, and just the title brought up a hazy, but warm memory of a happy place in my parents’ house, with Mom reading fairy tales to me. Thanks for that!

  2. Thank you for sharing. This is not a story I have heard before or at least not this version. I love the happy ending.
    I love fairy tales too. norma gardner

    1. milliexI – Do you have a vintage book store in your hometown? Call them and ask for an out-of-print copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Snow White and Rose Red. Sometimes the tales were published separately with wonderful drawings.

  3. My grandmother gifted me a Grimm’s Brothers Fairy Tale book when I was 8-years-old. I read a longer version of this tale. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I loved this story as a child; I read it in many collections of fairy stories, often in quite old books. I still have it in an anthology of children’s literature that was one of my college textbooks. The tale was so sweet, and was told with vivid details and descriptions. I remember how the girls, once they got over their initial fear of their nightly guest, loved to play with their bear friend. They climbed all over him, tugged at his fur and ears, sometimes even playfully swatted him with the hearth broom, and when they got a bit too rough, he would chant a little verse, “Snow White, Rose Red, will you beat your lover dead?” and their frolicking would become more gentle. Once, as he was taking his leave in the morning, a broken bit of wood in the door frame caught his thick coat, and a small patch of his brown fur pulled off and stuck in the crack. As Snow White watched him lumbering away, she thought she saw a glint of shiny gold in the place where his fur was missing. When the prince’s true form was revealed to the girls, he was clad in armor of polished gold that dazzled their eyes. Details like these made the story quite memorable, and the characters very real to an impressionable young reader. Thanks for bringing back such a nice childhood memory. Original fairy tales were so much better before Disney watered them down.

  5. What a beautiful tale, I certainly had not heard of this version before. Now I am wondering if it maybe in a very old book I have in my library of Grimms Fairytales I shall check this out later. Thank you for posting.

  6. My Aunt would read stories to my sister and me when we were staying with our grandparents. Auntie had such a loving and special way of embellishing the characters. I still remember the love that she always showered on us after all these years. I am eighty three years old.
    Snow White and Rose Red was my favorite story.

  7. when i was a kid, i had a book that had the fairy tale of rose red and rose white. Am i remembering this incorrectly? everything i find says that her name was snow white, but i remember her as rose white. anyone know ?

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