Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Amelia. Amelia Wonders, “Who were the brothers Grimm?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Amelia!
Have you heard the one about the beautiful young girl who is forced to live with seven miniature miners to avoid the evil plots of her wicked stepmother? Of course, you have! Everyone knows the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
But how is it that we know Snow White's tale, as well as those of other fairy tale characters, such as Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty? You can thank two brothers from Germany.
The Brothers Grimm, otherwise known as Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, were German librarians who also specialized in philology, which is the study of language in historical texts. During the early 19th century, they became interested in cultural research and began to collect and publish local folklore.
The Brothers Grimm didn't actually write any of the stories their name has become synonymous with. Instead, these stories existed as part of a longstanding oral tradition in Germany and had been passed down from one generation to another for many years.
The Brothers Grimm interviewed friends and relatives, writing down these stories to save them from extinction. Eventually, they published their collection of folklore and fairy tales as Children's and Household Tales in 1812.
In addition to the famous tales mentioned previously, the collection contained many other famous tales, including The Frog Prince, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. The collection, which would over time become known as Grimm's Fairy Tales, was republished many times, eventually growing from an initial collection of 86 stories to over 200 stories in the seventh edition.
To date, the fables and fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm have been translated into more than 160 different languages. The stories are so timeless and popular that one language can have many versions. In the United States, for example, you can find more than 120 different editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
The enduring popularity of these stories can be seen in the number of the stories that have been made into movies. Even though many people would consider these popular fairy tales to be children's stories, they weren't originally meant for kids.
The earliest editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales did not contain illustrations and were targeted at adults. Many of the stories contained violence and other dark content not meant for children. Over time, many of the stories were modified to resemble to the tales we know today.
Although the Brothers Grimm published many other works, including books about mythology, linguistics, and medieval studies, Grimm's Fairy Tales was their enduring, signature work. It was a bestseller during their lifetimes and has maintained its popularity throughout the ages.