Little Red Riding Hood is perhaps one of the best known fairy tales. Like most European fairy tales, its origins lie within a sprawling folk tradition of oral storytelling. It was first published in the late 17th century by Charles Perrault – a French author who is considered to be the father of the fairy tale genre due to his work collecting these tales together for the first time in print. This later version, contained within a small, hand-coloured chapbook, dates from 1810 and was published in Moorfields, London. It is told in the form of a verse poem with alternating unrhymed and rhymed couplets. The clear text and simple language, coupled with the large colourful illustrations, suggests that this chapbook was aimed at young readers.
By the early 19th century the cautionary tale of Red Riding Hood had been told and retold countless times, producing numerous adaptations. This version sticks closely to Perrault’s original, and predates the Grimm brothers’ version by two years. Notably, the ‘happy ending’ we are familiar with today – in which Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are heroically saved by a woodcutter – is absent; instead, the last scene grimly depicts the wolf eating the little girl.