German tales for children

20 December 1812 by the Grimm brothers or “Brothers Grimm”, Jacob and Wilhelm. German tales for children collection is commonly known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales among English speakers. Philipp was a highly regarded district magistrate in Steinau, near Kassel.

Jacob and Wilhelm were sent to school for a classical education once they were of age, while their father was working. They were very hard-working pupils throughout their education. They followed their father’s footsteps and started to pursue a degree in law. Shortly after attending Lyzeum, their beloved grandfather died and they were again left to themselves to support their family in the future. The two became hell-bent on becoming the best students at Lyzeum, since they wanted to live up to their deceased father. They studied more than twelve hours a day and established similar work habits. They also shared the same bed and room at school.

After four years of rigorous schooling, Jacob graduated head of his class in 1802. Jacob attended the university first and showed proof of his hard work ethic and quick intelligence. When Wilhelm joined Jacob at the university, Jacob attained a reputation about him and drew the attention of Professor Friedrich Carl von Savigny. Professor Friedrich Carl von Savigny was the founder of its historical school of law. He became a huge personal and professional influence on the brothers. Throughout their time at university, the brothers became quite close with Savigny and were able to use his personal library as they became very interested in German law, history, and folklore. In 1808, their mother died and it was very hard on Jacob because he took the position in the family as a father figure, while also trying to be a brother.

From 1806 to 1810, the Grimm family had barely enough money to properly feed and clothe themselves. During this time, Jacob and Wilhelm were concerned about the stability of the family and began collecting folk tales. Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano were good friends of the brothers and wanted to publish folk tales, so they asked the brothers to collect oral tales for publication. The Grimms collected many old books and asked friends and acquaintances in Kassel to tell tales and to gather stories from others.

Jacob and Wilhelm sought to collect these stories in order to write a history of old German Poesie and to preserve history. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totaling 170 tales. Stories were added, and also subtracted, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 211 tales. The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called “Children’s Tales”, they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter. In 1825, the Brothers published their Kleine Ausgabe or “small edition”, a selection of 50 tales designed for child readers. This children’s version went through ten editions between 1825 and 1858.

The brother’s initial intention of their first book, Children’s and Household Tales, was to establish a name for themselves in the world. After the first book was published in 1812, they began their second volume, German Legends, which was published in 1818. The book that started their international success was not any of their tales, but Jacob’s publication of German Grammar in 1819. In 1837, King Ernst August II revoked the constitution of 1833 and was attempting to restore absolutism for the Kingdom of Hannover.

Since Göttingen was a part of Hannover, the brothers were expected to take an oath of allegiance. However, the brothers and five other professors led a protest against this and were heavily supported by the student body since all of these professors were well renowned. Jacob left Göttingen immediately and Wilhelm followed him a few months later back to Kassel. In Kassel, the Grimms devoted themselves to researching and studying. A close friend of theirs, Bettina von Arnim, was also a talented writer.