The Brothers Grimm were both professors and scholars. In fact, Jacob Grimm is considered to be the father of the study of German history. They both taught as professors in Germany’s capitol, at the University of Berlin.
In 1802, Jacob went to university to study law at the University of Marburg. As always, his little brother followed him, and entered law school in 1803. During their university years they began to collect folk and fairy tales. Folklore is stories that have been passed down from parents to children, by word of mouth, but at that time many had not been published in books. The Grimms were especially interested in stories that included Germany and German culture.
Grimms' Fairy Tales, as the English-language version is usually called, pervades world culture. So far the collection has been translated into more than 160 languages, from Inupiat in the Arctic to Swahili in Africa.
The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, named their story collection Children's and Household Tales and published the first of its seven editions in Germany in 1812. Drawn mostly from oral narratives, the 210 stories in the Grimms' collection represent an anthology of fairy tales, animal fables, rustic farces, and religious allegories that remains unrivaled to this day.
Their tales presented tales of social and personal values, often placing children in dangerous situations ("Hansel and Gretel") and were quite violent in nature. Animals in these works followed familiar anthropomorphic patterns ("The Bremen Town Musicians"), and supernatural characters were often used to reward individuals for good behavior ("The Elves and the Shoemaker").
The American versions of the stories have often been watered down, diminishing some of the elements of peril and minimizing references to acts of violence. In the originals, the Brothers Grimm often make very clear that the child or other protagonist is in danger of being killed.
The brothers Grimm joined the Georgia Augusta in 1830. They belonged to the “Göttingen Seven” who as liberally minded professors protested against the repeal of the constitution of the state of Hanover by King Ernst August, and were dismissed from their University posts in 1837. Thereon a publisher offered them the opportunity to develop a dictionary for the German written language documented from 1450 onwards. Within ten years they had compiled a collection of a total of approximately 600,000 words primarily from literary works.
Jacob Grimm (1785 to 1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786 to 1859) are considered to be the founders of German studies and German philology. With their fairy tales “Kinder- und Hausmärchen” as well as the “German Dictionary” they are known worldwide.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in Hanau: Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm on 4 January 1785, and his younger brother Wilhelm Karl Grimm on 24 February the following year. Hanau was the obvious choice for the beginning of the German Fairytale Route, which ends in Bremen with the Town Musicians.
In 1840, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia invited Jacob and Wilhelm to Berlin, where they were quickly appointed to the Royal Academy of Sciences. In 1842, Jacob Grimm received the Order Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts – an award also bestowed upon the Bremen Town Musicians sculptor Gerhard Marcks around 100 years later. Jacob was also a delegate at the Frankfurt Parliament, Germany's first national assembly, at St. Paul's Church, Frankfurt, in 1848.