9 Real Life People Who May Have Actually Inspired Your Favorite Fairy Tales.

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Most fairytales are works of imagination dreamed up by some of our favourite childhood authors. But some historical figures born in the years before the fairytales were made bear an uncanny resemblance to our favorite fictional princes and princesses.



1/8 Al-Khayzuran Bint Atta, One Thousand and One Nights

In One Thousand And One Nights, Scheherazade is a storyteller and bride of an Arabian king. This king has previously executed each wife the morning after their honeymoon but Scheherazade finds a way around this. She survives by telling him stories every night so when he wakes in the morning he's fallen in love with her.

Al-Khayzuran Bint Atta was born in Yemen in the 700s and then kidnapped and sold into slavery. The caliph, Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi, fell in love with his slave and married her. She proved to be a strong wife and convinced her husband to appoint their sons as successors as opposed to his sons with other wives. She is accredited with her son Harun al-Rashid's success in leadership as the Middle East flourished with cultural and religious prosperity under his rule.

2/8 Rhodopis, Cinderella by Charles Perrault

Though the accuracy of this claim could be disputed, the rumour has yet to be completely disproven. Rhodopis was a Greek prostitute in the 6th Century, sold into slavery and sent to Egypt. The story goes that she was bathing one day and an eagle took one of her sandals and dropped it in the lap of the pharaoh. Enchanted at the beauty of the slipper he searched the land until he found Rhodopis, fell in love with her and married her.

3/8 Countess Margarete Von Waldeck, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by the Brothers Grimm

Born in 1533 in Hesse, Germany, Countess Margarete von Waldeck fell in love with Prince Phillip II of Spain. Her stepmother, Katharina of Hatzfield, and his father, the King of Spain, did not approve of the relationship as it was not a good political arrangement for either country. Margarete died of a mysterious illness at the age of 21 and is thought to have been poisoned, though not by her stepmother who had already passed. It is believed that she was poisoned by the Spanish authorities to keep her away form the prince. A startling similarity to the fairytale is her brother's copper mine employed children whose growth was stunted by malnourishment, giving them the appearance of dwarfism.

4/8 Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

In this case the author is his own inspiration. In the original Ugly Ducking it is revealed that the duckling was not a duckling after all, he was a swan, and he comes to love himself for his differences. Andersen confessed after writing the story that it was a reflection of his own life and he considered it to be his autobiography. He struggled with depression after being bullied as a child for being nerdy and awkward, and never fully recovered from the torment. For many years there was a rumour that he was actually royalty and therefore being raised by the "wrong species" but this has since been disproved.



5/8 Saint Barbara, Rapunzel by the Grimm Brothers

Saint Barbara was a beautiful woman in the 3rd Century, so beautiful that her father had to lock her in a tower to keep away her suitors. She lived in a tower for most of her childhood and teenage years, with food and laundry delivered to her by a basket and a rope. On top of wanting to keep her virgin and pure, her father also didn't want to her to be swayed by Christian men and women as Christianity was not in favour at the time. One day a book on Christianity was placed in her basket and the story of Christ gave her hope. She converted to Christianity and her father was so upset that he made the Roman authorities torture her into converting back to Greco-Roman. The torture didn't work and he chose to have his daughter beheaded.

6/8 Conomor the Cursed, Bluebeard by Charles Perrault

Conomor the Cursed was a medieval ruler of Brittany, known for his cruelty and tyranny. Legend has it that Conomor murdered three wives before setting his eyes on Trephine, daughter of Waroch II. She initially refused his advances on the basis of his previously murdered wives but when he threatened to take her father's land she agreed to marry him. One day while he was away she found a secret room in their home containing relics or trophies of his previous wives. The ghosts of the wives appeared to warn Trephine that if she becomes pregnant Conomor will be afraid of being killed by his own son and will thus murderer her and the baby. Later she became pregnant and tried to hide the baby boy from Conomor but he found them and beheaded her.

7/8 Jenny Lind, The Nightingale by Hans Christen Andersen

Jenny Lind, nicknamed the Swedish Nightingale, was a Swedish opera singer. Yet another semi-autobiographical tale for Hans Christen Anderson, he fell in love with the opera singer and was devastated when she didn't return his affection. Before she married German composer Otto Goldschmidt, when Anderson still had hope, he wrote this story for her. He said that she was "a sanctuary of art".

8/8 Petrus Gonsalvus, Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

Known as the "man of the woods", Petrus was born in 1537 in the Canary Islands. At a young age he was diagnosed with hypertrichosis, a disease causing an abnormal amount of hair growth all over the body, and given to King Henry II of France as a gift. Originally he was treated as an outsider but eventually people realized his capacity for intellect and languages and he joined the royal court. The court arranged a marriage to a girl named Catherine who was, keeping with the tradition of arranged marriages, not told much about her husband before marrying him. She was shocked to say the least but their friendship grew and eventually they came to love each other and have children. Unfortunately several of their children were also diagnosed with hypertrichosis and given as gifts to various courts across Europe.

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