Brothers Grimm

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm known as The Grimm Brothers (Brüder Grimm ) were born at Hanau in Hasse-Kassel, Germany. Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm the second son, was born on January 4, 1785 and Wilhelm Carl Grimm the third son, was born on February 24, 1786.

The Grimms were a large family of nine children, eight boys and one girl. Their father was a lawyer and after his death they set out to Kassel to attend law school and to follow in their father’s footsteps. The children of Philippe Wilhelm Grimm and Dorothea Grimm were:

1. Friedrich Hermann Georg Grimm (1783-1784)
2. Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm (1785-1863)
3. Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1786-1859)
4. Carl Friedrich Grimm (1787-1852)
5. Ferdinand Philipp Grimm (1788-1844)
6. Ludwig Emil Grimm (1790-1863)
7. Friedrich Grimm (1791-1792)
8. Charlotte (Lotte) Amalie Hassenpflug, neé Grimm (1793-1833)
9. Georg Eduard Grimm (1794-1795)

The Grimms were best known for publishing collections of authentic folk tales and fairy tales from the people of Hesse and especially a local storyteller named Marie Muller.

Also, the brothers traveled widely throughout what is now Germany and other countries, performing field research for their linguistic work, which involved trying to find patterns in how the vowels and consonants which made up specific words changed over time.

In 1812, the Grimm Brothers published their first volume of eighty-six stories and tales. In 1814 the second volume contained seventy stories. The stories were a success and the brothers were recognized for their work in 1819 with honorary doctorates from Marburg University.

The table of contents for this collection reads like an A-list of fairytale celebrities: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, The Frog Prince and many others. Drawn mainly from oral narratives, 210 tales in the Grimm collection represents an anthology of fairytales, animal fables, rustic farces and religious allegories that remains unrivalled to this day.

In 1825 Wilhelm married Henriette Dorothea Wild. Through the years the brothers were working as librarians in different Universities. In 1830, they formed a household in Göttingen where they were to become professors.

In 1837, the Brothers Grimm joined five of their colleague professors at the University of Göttingen to protest against the abolition of the liberal constitution of the state of Hanover by King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover. This group came to be known in the German states as Die Göttinger Sieben (The Göttingen Seven). Invoking their right to resist on reasons of natural and constitutional justice, they protested against the King’s hubris to abrogate the constitution. For this, all professors were fired from their university posts and some even deported. Though politically divided by borders of duchies and kingdoms at that time, public opinion and academia in German realms almost unanimously supported the Grimms and their colleagues against the monarch.

In 1838 they began the work on the thirty-two volumes of a German dictionary, which focuses on history. Within the next ten years the Grimms resigned from their teaching at the University of Berlin and devoted their time to the completion of the dictionary. The Grimms did not live to see the final edition of their German dictionary.

Wilhelm Grimm died on December 16, 1859 and Jacob Grimm on September 20, 1863. They are buried in the St Matthäus Kirchhof Cemetery in Schöneberg, Berlin.

The Grimms helped foment a nationwide democratic public opinion in Germany and are cherished as the progenitors of the German democratic movement, whose revolution of 1848/1849 was crushed brutally by the Kingdom of Prussia, where there was established a constitutional monarchy.