If you're a regular reader of the quibble blog, then you'll know that we've locked horns with one of our favourite websites, snopes.com, before. Another time that they disagreed with us was regarding the make-up of Cinderella's slippers, but this time we have to bow down to their greater authority.
The work on this question was done by QI maestro John Lloyd when the idea of QI was in its infancy, luckily we still have his original files to hand:
the "original" 9th century Chinese story "Yeh-Shen"
they're made of gold thread with solid gold soles. In the Scottish
version "Rashie-Coat" they're made of rushes. In The German
version they're embroidered with silk and gold thread. There's one
story in which she loses one of her galoshes and, in India, it's her
In the mediaeval French version used by Perrault, so the story goes, her shoes are described as pantoufles de vair - 'slippers of squirrel's fur'. Supposedly Perrault mis-heard the word as verre 'glass' and so it has erroneously remained ever since.
One source says this error occurred before Perrault and he merely repeated it. Others suggest that the mistake occurred when Perrault was translated into English by Robert Samber in 1729. The latter is definitely not the case: the Perrault story is entitled "Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre".
Two sources - snopes.com and Maria Tatar's authoritative "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales(2002)" - think glass slippers were Perrault's own idea and that he intended them all along.
How anyone will ever definitely know after all this time, I don't know, but the supposed mistake is a good story and I'm reluctant to let it drop without peer review. It would be an awful lot of wasted work."
The work gives an idea of how QI tries to seek both sides of every story, and how we remain sceptical, even, of our own questions. In this case we have to admit that it is true that most fairy-tale historians (yes, they do exist) do not believe our theory that Cinders' shoes were made from fur, rather than glass, but we wanted to put the argument forward. Sadly the confines of a 30 minute show meant that this didn't really come across.