Jakob Grimm was born on January 4, 1785 to Phillip and Dorothea Grimm. Wilhelm Grimm was born February 24, 1786. Wilhelm was very delicate as a child and often became sick. All of the Grimms were born in Hanau, Germany. Phillip and Dorothea Grimm had nine children. Three of whom died as infants. Jakob and Wilhelm’s siblings were Carl, Ferdinand, Ludwig, and Charlotte.
From childhood on, Jakob and Wilhelm were inseparable. They loved literature from an early age and often studied together. The Grimm’s had a very strong sense of family. They often helped each other by giving advice and money. Phillip’s sister taught Jakob and Wilhelm how to read, write, and multiply.
Phillip Grimm died January 1796. At the young ages of 11 and 10, Jakob and Wilhelm took over as their family’s providers. Both brothers decided to study law at the University of Marburg. Though Jakob never finished his studies, his teacher, Savigny, inspired and befriended him. In 1805, Savigny requested that Jakob accompany him to Paris to help him research, and Jakob happily went. Wilhelm, though, finished his studies and took his test to become a lawyer.
Just twelve years after their father’s death, the Grimm family experienced another death. Dorothea Grimm passed May 1808. She left behind 6 children without a source of income. The family was also emotionally scarred. Jakob and Wilhelm took charge of their four younger siblings, struggling to support the family for years to come.
In 1825, Wilhelm married Dortchen Wild. Dortchen and the Grimm’s had been friends for over twenty years. Sadly, in 1826, Wilhelm’s first son died at only a few weeks old.
The Grimm brothers’ 1st volume of tales was released in 1812. The Brothers were influenced by the German Romantic Movement. German romanticism dealt mainly with German history, stories or myths about nature, and fantasy or the supernatural. Some of their tales were made to be hard lessons for children. The 2nd volume of tales came out in 1815, containing about 70 tales. By the last volume in 1817, there were approximately 210 tales.
The Brothers collected the tales between 1807 and 1814. They collected the tales orally from friends or acquaintances in the area of Kassel, Germany. The brothers even collected from Wilhelm’s future wife, Dortchen. When editing the fairy tales, the brothers often made major changes. The tales are edited to be longer. They added Christian expression, and got rid of any sexual or erotic material. They embellished the language, and emphasized the male role as patriarch. Also, the Grimm tales had a common plot. First, the protagonist departed to explore the world. Then, there were generally three encounters in which the hero helps a creature or receives a gift from a stranger. Next, the character encounters a powerful person who threatens to take away the heroes happiness. Then the hero uses the gift, or calls upon the creature. Lastly, the hero is rewarded with happiness or wealth.
The brothers were also known for their work in establishing the German Dictionary. Jakob was also recognized for his work on German Grammar. Jakob published Irish Tales of Elves, and his final work in 1835, German Mythology. After his mother’s death, Wilhelm began his work with Norse Literature. He published his first book in 1811, titled Old Danish Heroic Songs. His book Literary Runes, was published in 1828.
Wilhelm died at the age of 73 on December 16, 1859. He left behind a wife and two children. Jakob died September 20, 1863 at the age of 78. He never chose to marry. The Brothers tales are still largely used today. They are popular in advertising, music, movies, and television. Four of the fairy tales were later turned in major Disney films, including Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White. For some time after its release, the tales were second in sales only to the Bible.