11 Brothers Grimm Facts: Who Were They, What Did They Write And More | Kidadl


11 Brothers Grimm Facts: Who Were They, What Did They Write And More

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Grimm Brothers hailed from Germany and were academics, philologists, cultural researchers, lexicographers, and authors who garnered interest in collecting and publishing folklore.

Contemporaries of the 19th century, the Brothers Grimm were the best storytellers who brought popular folk tales and stories such as ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Frog Prince’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Rapunzel’, 'Sleeping Beauty' and ‘Snow White’. They kicked off their literary life with the publication of ‘Children’s and Household Tales’ in 1812.

The Grimms, however, stole classics from the German canon, such as 'Little Red Riding Hood', which had existed in different variations and areas throughout Europe, since they believed such stories were expressions of Germanic culture. Although it existed in numerous variants and localities, the Grimms classified 'Little Red Riding Hood' as a distinctly German tale. They wrote children's literature. Their parents had nine children. Their law professor inspired these two brothers to take up writing. There were seven editions of the original folk written by these two brothers. The Grimm family contributed a lot to German folklore, folk poetry, and German mythology writing. Philipp Grimm and Jacob Grimm had a huge story collection as they were a storytelling family.

Their contribution to fairy legends and German literature cannot be ignored. Jacob and Wilhelm brought laurels to German literature, German language, and German culture which was soon applauded by the countries worldwide. Although the brothers were not directly associated with the Young Germans movement, five of their colleagues protested the requests of King Ernest Augustus. Wilhelm died in 1859 and Jacob died in the year 1863.

Family And Personal Background

Here is a sneak-peek into the early life and family background of the Grimm Brothers whom we revere and love to date!

The elder of the two, Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm, was born on the January 4, 1785, while his sibling, Wilhelm Carl Grimm was born on the February 24, the following year. Both were natives to Hanau in the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, which lay within the Holy Roman Empire; presently falling under the territory of Germany.

The Brothers Grimm were born to Philipp Wilhelm Grimm and Dorothea Grimm. Their father was a jurist and their mother was the daughter of a Kassel City councilman. In their family of nine, Jacob and Wilhelm were the second and third eldest siblings and three had died in their infancy itself. When Philipp got posted in Steinau, as the district magistrate, the family moved to the countryside in 1791. Here, the brothers enjoyed the bliss in large fields and soon grew fond of the countryside.

Starting Literary Life

Have a look into the literary life of the brothers that took them to great heights in no time!

The Brother Grimms attended the University of Marburg, which instilled curiosity and passion for folklore in them. It fueled them to collect German folktales. Their passion for national literature and culture got a boost with the rise of romanticism in the 19th century. They did folklore studies: a methodology in which collection and research of folklore are initiated.

In a span of 45 years, from 1812 to 1857, their collection grew from 86 - 200, which was a result of rigorous revision and republication of works. Apart from writing and modifying folk tales, the brothers specialized in German and Scandinavian mythologies. They also ventured to publish a German lexicon, which couldn’t be finished in their lifetime.

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Grimm’s fairy tales were originally called 'Children’s and Household Tales' and were penned in German. This was published on the December 20, 1812. When the first edition had eight stories, the seventh edition published in 1857 ran over 210 fairy tales.

There were several changes in the size, length, and content of these fairy tales that evolved over 45 years. Some were extensively illustrated, mostly by Philipp Grot Johann and then by Robert Leinweber.

The first edition of the Brothers Grimm was subject to rampant criticism. They were featured by academic and scholarly substance. As the editions evolved, the role played by the characters also underwent changes! For instance, in 'Snow White' and 'Hansel and Gretel' the authors had to replace a wicked mother with a stepmother.

Themes And Analysis

The works of the Grimm Brothers were vivid and diverse in their plots and theme. The fairy tales were not merely woven stories but symbolic of a new era and transformation in the lifestyle of people at the time.

Fairy tales take us to a magical world, a world of fantasy and nostalgia. Jacob and Wilhelm Grim have unarguably woven wonders in their works. These fairy tales are thought-provoking and provide glimpses into the functioning of society in older times.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German academicians, philologists, cultural researchers, lexicographers, and authors who focused on collecting and disseminating folk stories in the 19th century. Wilhelm married Henriette Dorothea Wild in 1825. She came from a family of storytellers, and she shared tales with the Brothers Grimm with the help of her mother and sisters.  The graves of Brothers Grimm are located in Schöneberg, Berlin.

Stories such as 'Sleeping Beauty' were previously published by Brothers Grimm. In the film 'The Brothers Grimm', they are depicted as scam artists who prey on superstitious German peasants until they are confronted with a true fairy tale curse that forces them to become heroes. The Grimms' position as collectors of Grimms fairy tales is shown in the film 'Ever After', however, they realize to their astonishment that at least one of their stories is actually genuine. The Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Center houses the university library of Humboldt University in Berlin, which includes a substantial section of the Grimms' private library. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm lived in the countryside town of Steinau.

These German brothers are widely regarded as German legends.

Children's And Household Tales

Dorothea (née Zimmer) and Philipp Wilhelm Grimm had nine children, Jacob and Wilhelm being the second and third. Philipp was a popular district magistrate at Steinau.

Jacob and Wilhelm were sent to school for a classical education when they were old enough while their father worked. They were exceptionally industrious students throughout their schooling. Following in their father's footsteps, they began their studies in law and German history. Their father, on the other hand, died of sickness in 1796 at the age of 44. The Grimms went through a difficult time when they lost all of their financial support and had to rely on their aunt, Henriette Zimmer, and grandfather, Johann Hermann Zimmer. When Jacob was 11 years old, he was obliged to be the head of the household and provide for his family.

After decreasing their house for economic concerns, Henriette sent Jacob and Wilhelm to the prestigious Lyzeum high school in Kassel. Their grandfather wrote to them at school, reminding them that they needed to work hard to assure their future well-being because of their current situation.

Kidadl Team
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