Brothers Grimm And Their Most Famous Fairy Tales

brothers grimm famous fairy tales German

German Fairy Tales | Brothers Grimm Tales | Grimms Fairy Tales

The Germans Jacob Grimm (1985-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859) – “Brothers Grimm” – are regarded as the founders of German studies and are worldwide famous for their fairytale collections.

Who are the Brothers Grimm?

The Grimm brothers were both born in the late 19th century in the German town Hanau. Their great-grandfather and grandfather were clergyman of the reformed creed. The brothers Grimm studied law in the university of Marburg, where they got to know the poet and translator Johann Gottfried Herder and the jurist Friedrich Karl von Savigny, who familiarized them with works of romanticism and minnesongs. While Jacob finished his studies, Wilhelm left university without a degree.

Until their death in 1863 and 1859, the brothers kept on living and working together. When their teacher Friedrich Karl von Savigny invited Jacob Grimm to Paris in 1803, for both brothers it felt unbearable to be seperated after only a very short amount of time. Thats when they decided to stay together troughout their whole life. Until her marriage, the sister of the two brothers was doing their household. Later on, Wilhelm Grimm married his former neighbour Henrietta Dorothea Wild.

In 1807, the brothers started collecting and writing down orally handed down fairy tales. They did not except their first fairy tale collection to be successful, but considered their work as a service for the German cultural heritage. Thoughout their whole life, both brothers were always working in very good positions like for instance for governments, the University of Göttingen or as members of the famous Akademie der Wissenschaften ( = Academy of Sciences) in Berlin.

Famous German Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm

Many fairy tales exist(ed) in different versions. In most cases, the Grimm brothers collected them and created a new version out of many. For instance, one of the most famous fairytales by the Grimm brothers is called Rapunzel.

Rapunzel – Rapunzel

Rapunzel story: Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long wished for a child. The couple had a small window in their backyard, from which one could see a magnificent garden, which was surrounded by a high wall. No one dared to go in, because the garden belonged to a sorceress with great powers. One day, the woman stood at the window and looked down into the garden, when she saw a bed planted with the most beautiful rapids. They looked so fresh and green, that her desire of eating them increased every day. When she noticed, that she could not get any of them, she fell miserable. Her husband was frightened and asked, what was wrong. After she told him, at dusk, he climbed the wall into the sorceress’s garden, stabbed a handful of rapes and gave them to his wife. She immediately made a salad and ate it with full desire. But they had tasted so good to her that the next day, her desire increased three times more. To give her peace, the man had to go back into the garden. So he set off again at dusk, but when he already descended the wall, he saw the sorceress standing in front of him. She became angry but allowed him to pick more rapids under one condition: she wanted the first child of the woman for taking care of him as a mother. When Rapunzel was born, the sorceress took it with her and kept it in a tower when she turned 12 years old. 

Rapunzel had very long and magnificent hair, fine as spun gold. When she heard the voice of the sorceress, she tied her braids, wrapped her hair around a window-hook, the hair fell down twenty cubits, and the sorceress was able to come up to the tower. After a few years, the King’s son rode through the forest and passed the tower when he heard Rapunzel singing with the sweetest voice. He wanted to go up to her and started searching for a door of the tower, but could not find one. He rode home, but came back into the woods every day and listened again to Rapunzel voice. Once he was standing behind a tree, he saw that a sorceress came up and heard her screaming to Rapunzel to let down her hair. The King’s son did the same and climbed up to Rapunzels room. He told her that her voice touched him so much, that he wanted her to be his wife. They decided to visit every night and the King’s son should bring a piece of silk for building a ladder. After some while, Rapunzel by mistake told her grandmother, that she is much more heavy to carry up than the King’s son. The sorceress became angry and cut off Rapunzels hair. On the same day, the sorceress fixed the cut-off braids on the window-hook. When the King’s son came and asked Rapunzel to let her hair down, the sorceress let her stepdaugthers cut-off braids down. The magician glanced up at him and told him that rapunzel was gone. Full of pain, the King’s son jumped down the tower in despair. He survived, but thorns crushed his eyes. He wandered blindly in the forest for several years, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did nothing but moan and weep for the loss of his dearest love. At last, he came to the desert, where Rapunzel – with the twins she had borne – a boy and girl, lived miserably. He heard a voice and she was so familiar with him, that he approached it. As hee came, Rapunzel recognized him and fell upon his neck where she started wepping. Two of her tears, however, wetted his eyes. Finally, they became clear again and he could see with them as he did before. He led them into his kingdom, where he was received with joy and they lived happy and amused for a long time.

More Brothers Grimm Fairytales:

  • Cinderella – Aschenputtel
  • Frog King – Froschkönig
  • Sleeping Beauty – Dornrösschen
  • Hansel and Gretel – Hänsel und Gretel
  • Snow White – Schneewittchen
Featured image (cropped): Brüder Jacob und Wilhelm GrimmSMB Digital (Wikimedia) – PP
July 6, 2017
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