15 Little-Known Facts About the Brothers Grimm

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January 13th, 2011

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are best known for their collection of fairy tales, but there’s so much more to their story. From getting kicked out of work at a college, and writing a dictionary, there are so many interesting, but little known facts about the Grimm brothers. Read on to learn more about this talented linguistic pair.

  1. They came from a family of 9 kids: History only remembers two of the brothers Grimm, but there were actually several. The Grimm family had 9 kids, though only 6 survived infancy.
  2. Most of their siblings were boys: In their large family, there were many brothers Grimm. They had only one sister in a family of boys.
  3. Male figures died early in their lives: Both their father and grandfather died early, leaving the family in dire straits. The Grimm brothers seem to favor stories with female characters at the focus, and scholars believe this may be due to the loss of these male figures in their lives.
  4. Their main focus was linguistic research: Jacob and Wilhelm were really just focused on researching linguistics, and the famous Grimm tales are simply a byproduct of the research.
  5. Their birth home was destroyed in WWII: When visitors go to the birthplace to see the plaque and statue of the brothers Grimm, they are actually across the street from the home where they were born — the original home was destroyed in WWII.
  6. Jacob Grimm created Grimm’s Law: As part of their linguistic research, Jacob studied the history and structure of past German languages, and how they relate to other languages. His research became known as Grimm’s Law.
  7. Wilhelm married, but Jacob never did: While working on their research, Wilhelm married and created a family with 4 children, but Jacob remained a bachelor all his life.
  8. They wrote a German dictionary: The brothers Grimm laid the foundations for, and began the work on, a humongous German dictionary that was completed over 120 years later.
  9. They went from idyllic countryside to financial hardship: While their father and grandfather were alive, the Grimm family enjoyed a lovely countryside life. However, the Grimm brothers’ lives changed, and they had to move to a cramped urban residence.
  10. They had different approaches to work: Wilhelm and Jacob worked as a perfect team, with Wilhelm focusing on the imaginative and literary side, while Jacob did scholarly work.
  11. They lived in poverty: The year their fairy tales were published, they were surviving on 1 meal a day.
  12. They were fired from the University of Gottingen for political reasons: The brothers lost their jobs by signing a protest against the King.
  13. They were two of the Gottingen Seven: Their dismissal was related to being a part of the Gottingen Seven, a group that protested against the abolition or alteration of the constitution, and refused to swear an oath to the new king of Hanover.
  14. They published so much more than fairy tales: The Grimm brothers are responsible for not only fairy tales, but several other works including writings on linguistics, folklore, and a detailed German dictionary.
  15. Their stories may be purified: Some scholars believe that the tales may have been purified by those who gave the stories because the Grimms were devout Christians.

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