Culture and Recreation


Who were the Brothers Grimm?

The German brothers Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859), best known for their fairytales, were actually librarians and professors who studied law, together wrote a dictionary of the German language, and lectured at universities.

In 1805 Jacob traveled to Paris to conduct research on Roman law, and in a library there he found medieval German manuscripts of old stories that were slowly disintegrating; he decided the tales were too valuable to lose, and he vowed to collect them. The brothers’ interest in fairytales also led them to search for old traditions, legends, and tales, especially those meant for children. They traveled the German countryside, interviewing villagers in an effort to gather stories—most of which were from the oral tradition and had never been written down. The brothers were diligent in their efforts, recording everything faithfully so that nothing was added and nothing was left out. When the first volume of Kinderund Hausmärchen (literally, the Children’s Household Tales, but known better as Grimm’s Fairy Tales) was published in 1812, children loved it. Subsequent volumes were published in German through 1815. The fairytales collected in the multivolume work included such classics as “The History of Tom Thumb,” “Little Red Riding-Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood,” and “Cinderella.”


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