The Grimm Brothers
Even though fairy tales had been a significant part of children’s lives ever since the beginning of time, it seems that it wasn’t until the Brothers Grimm published their collection of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”. The duo of brothers, who were not only academicians, but also linguists and lexicographers, popularized some of the most famous fairy tales of all time, including ‘Snow White’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Rapunzel’, to the extent that they are a household name throughout the world.
Born Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm in 1785, and Wilhelm Carl Grimm in 1786, the brothers showed an academic inclination since their early years. However, their father passed in 1796, which changed their outlook on life as a whole. The years after the demise of their father brought upon them financial hardships. The family had to relinquish their servants and home, move to a smaller home and depend on their aunt and grandfather for monetary assistance. As the eldest male in the family, Jacob took up responsibilities, which doubled after the demise of their grandfather.
Both Jacob and Wilhelm had to face hardships in terms of quality education. They were denied admission on grounds of their social status, and were forced to study law, during the course of which their professor inspired in them a love for history. After studying German literature for years, they started collecting popular German fairy tales to be compiled into one collection of text.
Their methods of collection were vigorous and relentless, and came from reading, and talking to various sources, including peasants. Aimed at the contemporary aristocracy, their stories had a uniquely German flavor. They picked up something from pieces of lore and tradition, and gave them an interesting turn to weave a wonderful tale. Their stories were a reflection of popular German beliefs and practices, which they retained in all their works. The collection was first published in 1812 and became a major hit with several revisions and editions being published till 1857.
Interestingly enough, the writers of the most famous fairy tales for children had not originally targeted their stories towards them. Most of the Brothers Grimm’s stories were laced with explicit, darker tones. In various versions, Rapunzel became pregnant after having an affair with the prince, and the big bad wolf ate Red Riding Hood and her grandmother until the huntsman rescued them by cutting him open.
Nevertheless, the legacy that the two left behind lives on still. Even after more than a hundred years, people still flock to them to get their fill of fairy tales. If not in books, then in classic movie reproductions, the name of the greatest storytellers in history is still alive, entertaining children and adults worldwide.
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