Happy Birthday: Wilhelm Grimm

Wilhelm Grimm, a writer and story collector who, along with his brother Jacob, were known as the “Brothers Grimm” was born in Hanau, Germany on February 25, 1786. According to The Writer’s Almanac:

“…The brothers complemented each other: Jacob was quiet, a better scholar than his brother, and preferred to be alone; Wilhelm was an imaginative storyteller who loved music and the company of friends. In 1825, Wilhelm married a pharmacist’s daughter, and although Jacob never married, they all continued to share a house. The brothers went off to the University of Marburg to study law together, where one of their professors inspired in them a passion for linguistics and cultural history. They decided to study folklore, which they considered a pure form of national literature. Both brothers found positions as librarians, and although they didn’t make much money, the jobs were flexible, and they had time to pursue their own scholarship.

“The Grimms were interested in the stories of common people. Despite how they are portrayed these days, they didn’t actually wander through the German countryside collecting fairy tales. Instead they asked people to come to their homes and recite stories. Most of these storytellers were educated, middle-class people, many of them young women. The brothers asked their visitors to recite stories they had read, or that had been told to them, so often they were stories that servants had shared. One family of three young women provided the Grimms with many stories they had grown up hearing, and since the family was French, the Grimm brothers ended up with a lot of stories that were actually French in origin. The brothers edited the stories to make them clearer, more logical, and more appropriate for children. They also added in phrases and language to create what they believed was an authentic rustic sound. Their Children’s and Household Tales (1812), commonly known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, went through seven editions in their lifetime, and each time they changed the stories. The brothers taught at the university in Berlin, and spent the final years of their lives attempting to create a comprehensive dictionary of the German language.”

The Writer’s Almanac is a daily podcast of poetry and historical interest pieces, usually of literary significance. It can be found at https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac?.

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