Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859)
were German brothers famous for their collections of
folk songs and folktales, especially for Kinder- und
Hausmärchen [Grimm's Fairy Tales] (1812-22).
These volumes were influential to the collection of tales
throughout Europe, inciting scholars like Mathias
Winther to collect folktales. Both brothers were
linguists who specialized in historical linguistics,
primarily investigating the language of Old High German.
They lived at Kassel until 1829, when, perhaps motivated
political necessity, they moved to the nearby University
of Göttingen, where they were given appointments
as librarians and professors. During this period in 1835,
Jacob Grimm wrote Deutsche Mythologie [German
Mythology], which was widely acclaimed. Jacob Grimm attempted
to use peasant poetry, fairy tales, and mythology to
reconstruct the pre-Christian religion of the Germanic
The Grimm brothers were dismissed from their positions
at Göttingen when Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland,
became king of Hanover in 1837. Feeling that the constitution
of 1833 was too liberal, the new King repealed it and
dismissed the Grimms after they (along with five other
professors later called the "Göttingen Seven")
sent him a note explaining their loyalty to the old constitution.
In 1840, after a number of years in exile, they accepted
an invitation from the king of Prussia, Frederick William
IV, to go to Berlin and became members of the Royal Academy
of Sciences. While there they started the Deutsches Wörterbuch
[German Dictionary], a guide for the user of the written
and spoken word as well as a scholarly reference work.
Such an ambitious endeavor, the work was never completed
during their lifetime. During what later were called
the Berlin years, the brothers were very productive,
writing many of their influential works.
Kinder- und Hausmärchen [Fairy Tales]
(2 vol. 1812-15; 3 vol. 1819-22); Altdeutsche Wälder [Old
German Tales], 3 vol. (1813-16); Deutsche Sagen [German
Legends], 2 vol. (1816-18); Deutsches Wörterbuch [German
By Jacob Grimm
Über den altdeutschen Meistergesang [Concerning
the Old German Meister Songs](1811); Deutsche Grammatik [German
Grammer], 4 vol. (1819-37); Deutsche Rechtsaltertümer [German
] (1828); Reinhart Fuchs (1834); Deutsche Mythologie [German
Mythology] (1835); Geschichte der deutschen Sprache [History
of the German Language], 2 vol. (1848); Kleinere Schriften [Short
essays], 8 vol. (1864-90).
By Wilhelm Grimm
Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen und Märchen [Old
Danish Songs, Ballads and Tales] (1811); Über
deutsche Runen [Concerning German Runes] (1821); Grâve
Ruodolf [Duke Ruodolf] (1828); Die deutsche Heldensage [The
German Heroic Sagas](1829); Vrîdankes Bescheidenheit (1834); Kleinere
Schriften [Short Essays], 4 vol. (1881-87).