Red Riding Hood is one of the few popular tales that has no known literary
version prior to the publication of the tale in Charles Perrault's Histoires
ou Contes du temps passe (1697). The tale did exist orally prior
to Perrault's version, but we do not have enough information to know
how old the tale is. After Perrault's version was published, the tale
rapidly grew in popularity; it was anthologized in several English fairy
tale collections during the 18th century, such as in A Pretty Book
for Children; or, an Easy Guide to the English Tongue (1744) and
later in The Top Book of All, for Little Misters and Misses (1760).
The first English version of the tale was a translation of Perrault's
collection Histories, or Tales of Past Times (1729).
earliest illustrations for the tale were some of the first woodcuts
by Thomas Betwick (attributed). In 1803, the tale was written as a pantomime
by Charles Dibdin (Red Ridinghood; or, The Wolf Robber).
Dickens, the famous English author of Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, called Little Red Riding Hood his first love.
"I should have known perfect bliss," he claimed if he had
been able to marry her.
scholars believe that the ending dialog between Red Riding Hood and
the Wolf has been the reason for the tale's neverending popularity.
The questions about the wolf's ears, mouth, etc. bring rising suspense
and humor to the tale.
Perrault's version ends with the Wolf eating Riding Hood, many later
versions have been changed to "happier" endings. Little Red
Riding Hood has been killed, rescued or escaped in various versions.
Sometimes the Grandmother survives, too. The rescuer is most often a
hunter, but sometimes the girl's father or herself (Opie 1974).
learn more about Little Red Riding Hood and to read the first English
version of the tale, please read The
Classic Fairy Tales by Peter and Iona Opie. This history was derived
from the Opie's book.