THE GRIMM BROTHERS:
(German: Brüder Grimm)

Grimm bros.

Jakob Ludwig Grimm was born on January 4, 1785 and Wilhelm Karl Grimm was born on February 24, 1786.  Their mother gave birth to them in Hanau, a small town in Hesse (Hessen), Germany.  The Brothers Grimm were respected scholars and linguistics experts.  They received their education at the Friedrichs Gymnasium in Kassel.  Afterwards, they both went on to study law at the University of Marburg.  However, around the world, they are most famous for their magical fairy tales.  Their unforgettable stories of Cinderella, Snow White,and Hansel and Gretel have been passed down through generations worldwide.

  In 1807, when the brothers began collecting tales, there was a heightened interest in Germanic folklore.  Their collection of 86 fairytales in Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) was published in 1812. Volume two, which contained 70 tales, was published in 1814.  This set of 156 fairytales comprise the first edition of the work.  The final version of the fairy tales was published in 1857 after their death. It contains 200 stories and ten children's legends.

They followed "KHM" with the Altdeutsche Wälder (Old German Forests).  There were three volumes (1813, 1815, 1816). The books contained miscellaneous writings about linguistics, folklore, and medieval studies.  The forest themed collection, is quite befitting to their body of work.  This is due to the fact, that a large number of Grimm's fairy tales take place in the expansive, German forest. Additionally, the brothers compiled the Deutsche Sagen (German Legends).  This was comprised of two volumes (1816, 1818). This was a detailed, two volume catalogue.  It featured 585 German legends organized by category.

A little known fact, is that the Grimm Brothers were instrumental in the creation of the German dictionary, the Deutsches Wörterbuch.  The Grimm brothers began compiling the dictionary in 1838.  In the end, it took 100 years to finish.  After their death, the extensive 32 volume dictionary was seen to completion by the efforts of several generations of scholars.  The long awaited compilation was finally published in 1960.  It is still recognized as an authoritative reference source for the German language.

Although the brothers were known world wide as a writing team, they authored significant literary works, singularly as well.  Jacob is recognized for creating Grimm's Law.  The law pertains to the first significant Germanic sound shift.  Grimm's law is described as "The first non-trivial systematic sound change to be discovered in linguistics.  Its formulation was a turning point in the development of linguistics, enabling the introduction of a rigorous methodology to historical linguistic research (Campbell, Lyle 2004 Historical linguistics Cambridge MIT)." 

  Furthermore, Jakob is the author of Deutsche Mythologie (German Mythology), a comprehensive assemblage of Germanic mythology.  This exhaustive text, documents Germanic mythology from it's inception. It is a detailed and thorough account of the beliefs, rituals, and customs of the ancient Germanic peoples, the Teutons.  The title of the English translation version, Grimm's Teutonic Mythology is in reference to this (Stallybrass Edition, 1888). Wilhelm's noted solo works include, Über Deutsche Runen (On German Runes, 1821) and Die Deutsche Heldensage (The German Heroic Legend, 1829).

During their lifetime, the area of Europe, which is now called Germany, was is in the midst of great upheaval and transition. Following the dissolution of The Holy Roman Empire, the region was divided into 39 separate states.  The German language was the one commonality between the diverse population.  Together and individually, the brothers worked hard to preserve and document the rich history of the Germanic people.  By celebrating and sharing the area's literary and linguistic heritage, the brother's hoped it would instill a sense of national pride, helping to unify the citizens.

  -Written By: Kira Madallo Sesay