A traditional story re-told by Andrew Wright after a re-telling by Nadine Steinkogler of Linz

In Castle Rosenegg a woman waited for a man to save her from an evil creature who watched her morning, noon and night. The man who could save her would receive all the creature’s wealth.
A young man called Martin was collecting dry wood in the forest near
the castle. As he came closer he heard a woman crying in the castle and peering through a window, he saw her white body and arms and face in the darkness.
She cried, “You must save me from this creature!”
Martin couldn’t do that because he had to take the wood he was
collecting back to his mother who was waiting for him. He explained
this to the white woman and said that he would try to come back once he had delivered the wood. The white woman told him to bring three pieces of wood back with him.
“When you come back you must hit the creature three times, each time with a different piece of wood.”

Martin took the wood to his mother and then returned with three heavy sticks. He entered the castle and saw the white woman and the
creature. The creature was a huge black dog sitting on a black box.  Martin hit the creature with the first stick and then, taking the second stick he hit it again. However, each time he hit the dog it grew twice as big as before, and its teeth lengthened and its eyes became redder.

Martin gave up.  He didn’t hit the dog a third time! He dropped the remaining sticks and ran out of the castle. The white lady’s screams followed him and her words haunted him, when he worked in the forest and even in his bed when he pulled the cover over his head:
“Now I must wait for another hundred years!” She wailed.


My comment
I love this story! It has some of the classic themes in it of a woman being captured by a monster and hoping a man would save her marry her and take the monster’s treasure. But Martin respects the responsibilities he has to his mother and feels he must fulfill those first and then come back. He does so and shows amazing courage by any normal standards and, not surprisingly runs away before the dog gets even bigger. After all he has lived with his mother for years and they have worked together and supported each other for years. Why should he risk his life for a woman he has never met before?
In any case the monster hasn’t actually done anything to her as far as we know…only looked! His evil could all be in her imagination! And the story begs the question how she got herself into this mess in the first place.
The only love in this story worth anything is Martin’s love for his mother.


16 Responses to “The White Woman from Rosenegg”

  1. 1 Cyndi L December 2, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I love the basic elements of this story…I’ve never seen this exact one before. Can you tell me anything else about its origins?

    • 2 Andrew Wright December 2, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      Is your name Cyndi? Thank you so much for writing to me and for visiting the site. Tell me anything else you feel like it about the site…

      The story was told to me by a schoolgirl from the grammar school in Linz in Austria. I have always loved it becaues the man doesnt fulfill the expected role and loves his mother more than the white woman and the lure of gold. I have no idea when it was created…its rejectiion of trad values suggests it is of recent origin….but I dont know. Very best wishes Andrew

      • 3 Cyndi L December 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm

        Thank you, Andrew! I am always looking for stories to use as the background for pieces that I design. Here’s a recent one called The Lady of Shalott:

        I was looking for a “traditional” tale that combined some of the elements in your story here. This is the only reference to it that I can find, though. That’s why I was wondering if it truly is a traditional story or not. I guess in some ways it doesn’t really matter for my purposes 🙂

        If I end up “using” this story as a backstory, I’ll just simply site your article here, as long as that’s alright with you…?

      • 4 Andrew Wright December 3, 2009 at 8:22 am

        Cyndi! What a beautiful necklace! I love the idea of one art affecting another.

        The idea of ‘traditional’ in some ways is real but thin. Studies of themes in traditional stories show that the stories were constantly changing in the winds of social change. Pre eighteenth versions of Little Red Riding Hood offer an independently minded girl which was then changed for the demanded role of the woman at court who should be weak and depend on a man…and then the Liverpool Womens Group in the 1960s re wrote it again so that LRRH and her grandma killed the wolf, skinned it, made its skin into a coat adn took turns wearing it. In recent years there has been some debate in story telling circles in teh UK about being faithful to the tradition…but the tradition was to adapt the stories to social change and to the particular groups of listeners you were with and their perceptions and their concerns. Cyndi…where do you live? Do you earn your living by making such lovely things? Andrew

  2. 5 Cyndi L December 4, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Thank you for your thoughts on tradition vs evolution, Andrew. I think you are right…there is a strong “tradition” of traditions changing!

    Thank you also for your compliment on my work. I live in New England and am a full time artist and writer…most of my income is from the writing part, but that’s ok with me 🙂 I get to make stuff and write about it, make more stuff and write about it. Doesn’t get much better, I think.

    Is it ok with you if I site this story (with a link, of course) as a background inspiration for a new piece? I’ve got the piece in mind already, but it will be a bit before I’ll be able to put it all together.

    • 6 Andrew Wright December 10, 2009 at 10:16 am

      Cyndi, delighted if you find my work useful, of value, worth referring to! Incidentally… I began as a painter at art school and then became a writer illustrator…now I am more of a storyteller…last night I came back from Poland and a storytelling and two weeks before that in Poland and two before that in Serbia…next Germany and then Dubai. Like you, perhaps, I feel it couldnt be better…except for me to do it better! Best wishes Andrew

      • 7 Cyndi L December 11, 2009 at 10:59 pm

        Thank you so much! I have the piece almost finished now…very different from the embroidered ones. That is so wonderful that you get to travel and do what you love. Me, I get to mostly stay home and do what I love 🙂

      • 8 Cyndi L December 11, 2009 at 11:01 pm

        BTW, if you’ll email me your email address, I’ll send you a picture of the finished piece if you’d like to see it.

      • 9 Andrew Wright December 12, 2009 at 10:43 am

        Cyndi In my innocence (or is it just ignorance) I didnt realise that I wasnt sending you emails!!! And with my email address… My address is… andrew@ili.hu A very happy Christmas and a fruitful new year! Andrew

  3. 10 Cyndi L December 5, 2009 at 3:10 am

    LOL! I don’t know why my last comment ended up posting itself over top of your earlier reply.

  4. 11 Debra Maynard January 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Pretty necklaces are one thing, but I’m surprised no-one has mentioned how plain hideous that story is – from the woman who was held captured – to beating a dog over and over with bigger sticks. This isn’t any better than Michael Vick and other miserable humans who abuse animals – especially loving loyal dogs… who, in this story is guarding the woman.

    Why beat the dog? Such stupidity which passes for ‘inspiration’ – yet the story is hollow and empty.

    • 12 Andrew Wright January 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      In spite of the presumption of your email title I am delighted by your fresh viewpoint on this story. Up to now I have delighted in the boys preference for his mother over the ‘free’ woman and loads of treasure and over his practicality in getting scared…I have loved this alternative to the traditional, ‘brave young man’. Then you come up with this fresh way of looking at it and expressed with indignation. Great. I can switch readily to your perception. In the earliest written story in the world (which is still in existence) Gilgamesh, the wretched hero sets out to kill Humbaba whose job it was to protect the vast cedar forests against the invasion of people. Exactly as you say, how can we respect someone ….some miserable human being…who wants to kill a loyal beast? So thank you. If you knew me you would know that I am not mocking your position but really respecting it.

      I am not sure why you assume that the story passes for inspiration. I dont believe the story is hollow and empty…it provides a refreshingly different male protagonist which is a relief as far as I am concerned.

      So, generally, thank you but I am still left feeling dismayed by how anyone can name their email address as ‘olderand wiserstill’. My cultural background would make me ashamed to presume wisdom…maybe your cultural background doesnt?


  5. 13 Nadine Steinkogler January 25, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Hi Mr Wright!!!

    I Hope that you are doing well!It’s me Nadine Steinkogler =) It is so funny to read my name here =) I still have your cassette I bought when you came to our school =)

    Best wishes

    Nadine Steinkogler

    • 14 Andrew Wright January 25, 2012 at 8:39 am

      Nadine! How delighted I am to hear from you! Gosh! You must be 100 years old now or at least retired! What are you doing? Please tell me about yourself! Andrew

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