Mark Campbell

Brothers Grimm

Early Life

Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm came from a large family of 9 children. Their father was a lawyer, after his death they went to law school to follow in his footsteps. The brothers were practically inseparable their entire lives. Even after Wilhem got married, they all lived together. The brothers attended school in Kassel, Germany where they studied law at the University of Marburg. While in school, a professor named Friedrich von Savigny sparked their interest in past cultures. The brothers immersed themselves in literature and became librarians in Kassel.

Collection of Tales

The brothers published their first collection of tales “Kinder-und Hausmärchen” (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812. The book consisted of 86 stories the brothers had heard since they were young. Jacob contributed mostly to the research behind the language and grammar, while Wilhelm used his warm personality to give the tales a more pleasant style.

In 1815, they released a second edition of “Kinder-und Hausmärchen” which added 70 stories. Some of the most recognizable stories from this collection include: Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin. Wilhelm’s wife Dortchen and her family contributed several stories to the brother’s collection.

Throughout their lives they released seven editions of the collection- adding, subtracting, and editing tales along the way. Most changes came as a result of poor reviews; especially those who felt the tales were not suitable for children in spite of the title. The brothers published “Kleine Ausgabe” (Small Edition) which contained 50 stories geared toward children. “Große Ausgabe” (large edition) on the other hand, was a more formal edition.

Between 1816 and 1818, the brothers published “Deutsche Sagen” a collection containing 585 German legends.

Authors Under Accusation

Some questions have been raised as to just how truthful the brothers were in their retelling of these tales. Many of their sources were personal young acquaintances rather than the older peasants who actually told these stories, which meant they didn’t conduct as much research of the folklore as they suggested. Some changes people claim the brothers made were adding Christian elements to the stories, a consistent tendency to change mother characters to stepmothers, and intensify violent content.

Additional Contributions

Jacob and Wilhelm contributed an enormous amount to German linguistics and written word, beyond their collection of stories. The brothers played an important part in working on a German dictionary “Deutsches Wörterbuch” which, to this day, is considered the standard reference for German etymology.

German terms

Kinder-und Hausmärchen- Children’s and Household Tales

Kleine Ausgabe- Small Edition

Große Ausgabe- Large Edition

Deutsches Wörterbuch- German Dictionary

Deutsche Sagen- German Legends


ger/101/2010/fall/mark_campbell.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/24 21:15 (external edit)
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