Born in 1780s, Jakob Ludwig Karl Grimm and his brother Wilhelm Karl Grimm were academics, cultural researchers and linguistic experts that gathered folklore and fairy tales from all over Europe. Their linguistics research included the evolution of language and how words changed meanings gradually over time. To the rest of the world, they The Brothers Grimm, the repository of some of the most well known and beloved fairy tales of modern times.
Keeping Up With the Grimms
Born in Hanau, Germany, the boys were two of nine children. They spent much of their childhood in the countryside during their father's employment to the Prince of Hessen. When Jakob was eleven, their father passed away. Their mother moved back to an urban residence with her father. When he too passed away a couple of years later, the family struggled to survive.
With so little money, the boys mother urged them to practice fidelity to the spoken word, to recount what they learned and to perfect it so they may retell it again later. Their entertainment was found through oral storytelling. By their early twenties, the boys had been educated and studied law, but their interests remained firmly entrenched in the past, particularly in the stories that their mother and grandfather had told them over and over.
In 1808, Jakob Grimm earned an appointment as court librarian to the King of Westphalia. The brothers were already deep into their linguistic research, studying the various folklore and legends throughout the countryside, comparing tales of one town with another not only for discernable differences in language, but also outcome. By 1812, they published their first collection of folklore and stories.
They published two more volumes between 1816 and 1818 as well as writing a volume about literary history. As they grew older, their interests became even more specialized. Their work as professors took them to many universities until a disagreement with the King of Hanover saw them expelled. They were then summoned by the King of Prussia where they were commissioned to write books on grammar and literature.
Not So Happily Ever After
While many modern retellings are based on the original folk lore and legends told by the Grimms brothers, the modern retellings often dress up the endings to make them prettier, gentler and more happily ever after. In the original tales, such as Cinderella, the sisters cut off their toes to try and fit in the slipper and are later pecked to death by birds. The diluted Disney versions have watered down the bloodshed. Among the collected works of the Brothers Grimm are:
* The Frog Prince Hansel and Gretel
* Sleeping Beauty
* Snow White
While the brothers literary contributions cannot be discounted, including their work in writing a dictionary, grammar manuals and more, they are best remembered for their fairy tales.