I like to consider myself an avid storyteller. From the day of my youth, I’ve been retelling some of the most famous fairy tales and folklore and have even thrown in a few of my own. With time, stories often become embellished or changed to suit the situations of the present. We can add characters, make them more or less believable, create interesting obstacles for them to overcome and dress them up to appeal to a certain audience.
In 1786, on this day, Wilhelm Grimm was born in Hanau, Germany. He was the second oldest of six siblings. His older brother, Jacob, would eventually team up with him to create the “Grimms’ Fairytales” we’ve all grown to know and love.
Both brothers followed the path of their father, who was a successful lawyer. Wilhelm entered law school at the age of 16. However, due to an illness, he did not begin work until he was 28. At that time he took a position at a royal library at Kassel, Germany. His brother, Jacob, joined him there two years later.
The two brothers studied German folklore and literature with a passion. The usual method of passing on stories was by word of mouth, and the brothers wanted to make sure they were preserved for all time. So they gathered the stories together, edited and revised them and produced “Children’s and Household Tales,” in 1812. A second volume followed three years later and culminated into what we now know as “Grimms’ Fairytales.” The volumes included the stories of Hansel & Gretel, Snow White, The Golden Goose and Little Red Riding Hood.
In the mid 1820’s Wilhelm married Dortchen Wild and they had four children. Brother, Jacob never married. They moved to Berlin in 1840 and became members of the Royal Academy of Science and lectured at university. They also took on a huge project of creating a dictionary of the German language, but Wilhelm died before its publication.
Over the years, the fairytales of German folklore have been preserved thanks to the Brothers Grimm. They’ve been tweaked, revised, retold, animated, and melded into our modern society. I’m thankful that they had the insight to save those stories. For without them, so much would’ve been lost. The Disney empire would never have been created without them. As with all stories, there really is nothing new under the sun. We simply keep retelling them in different ways with methods that combine the elements of the day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILHELM!