A recently discovered tombstone of an 18th-century baroness has been confirmed to be that of Maria Sophia von Erthal, who some believe was the inspiration for Snow White. Much like the heroine of the Brothers Grimm story, von Erthal was a “girl of unusual loveliness,” according to a family chronicle. After her mother died, she also came under the clutches of an imperious stepmother who ostracized her from the family. She ended her days, blind and unmarried, living with an English spinster in the Bavarian town of Bamberg.
Alas, all folktales contain a twist. Holger Kempkens, director of the Diocesan Museum in Bamberg, which acquired the tombstone, admitted to The Times of London that the theory that von Erthal is the real Snow White could, well, be “a bit of a gimmick”—a way for the town to compete with other tourism-hungry hamlets in the region that also claim to be the home of Snow White.