Grimms' Fairy Tales

Last updated
Grimms' Fairy Tales
Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmarchen, Erster Theil (1812).cover.jpg
Title page of first volume of Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1819) 2nd Ed.
Author Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Original titleKinder- und Hausmärchen
(lit. Children's and Household Tales)
Country Germany
Text Grimms' Fairy Tales at Wikisource

Grimms' Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children's and Household Tales (German : Kinder- und Hausmärchen, pronounced [ˌkɪndɐ ʔʊnt ˈhaʊsmɛːɐ̯çən] ), is a German collection of fairy tales by the Grimm brothers or "Brothers Grimm", Jacob and Wilhelm, first published on 20 December 1812. This first edition contained 86 stories, and by the seventh edition in 1857, it had 210 unique fairy tales. It is listed by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Registry.



Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were two of 10 children from Dorothea (née Zimmer) and Philipp Wilhelm Grimm. Philipp was a highly regarded district magistrate in Steinau an der Straße, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Hanau. Jacob and Wilhelm were sent to school for a classical education once they were of age, while their father was working. They were very hard-working pupils throughout their education. They followed in their father's footsteps and started to pursue a degree in law, and German history. However, in 1796, their father died at the age of 44 from pneumonia. This was a tragic time for the Grimms because the family lost all financial support and relied on their aunt, Henriette Zimmer, and grandfather, Johann Hermann Zimmer. At the age of 11, Jacob was compelled to be head of the household and provide for his family. After downsizing their home because of financial reasons, Henriette sent Jacob and Wilhelm to study at the prestigious high school, Lyzeum, in Kassel. In school, their grandfather wrote to them saying that because of their current situation, they needed to apply themselves industriously to secure their future welfare. [1]

Shortly after attending Lyzeum, their grandfather died and they were again left to themselves to support their family in the future. The two became intent on becoming the best students at Lyzeum, since they wanted to live up to their deceased father. They studied more than twelve hours a day and established similar work habits. They also shared the same bed and room at school. After four years of rigorous schooling, Jacob graduated head of his class in 1802. Wilhelm contracted asthma and scarlet fever, which delayed his graduation by one year although he was also head of his class. Both were given special dispensations for studying law at the University of Marburg. They particularly needed this dispensation because their social standing at the time was not high enough to have normal admittance. University of Marburg was a small, 200-person university where most students were more interested in activities other than schooling. Most of the students received stipends even though they were the richest in the state. The Grimms did not receive any stipends because of their social standing; however, they were not upset by it since it kept the distractions away. [1]

Professor Friedrich Carl von Savigny

Jacob attended the university first and showed proof of his hard work ethic and quick intelligence. Wilhelm joined Jacob at the university, and Jacob drew the attention of Professor Friedrich Carl von Savigny, founder of its historical school of law. He became a prominent personal and professional influence on the brothers. Throughout their time at university, the brothers became quite close with Savigny and were able to use his personal library as they became interested in German law, history, and folklore. Savigny asked Jacob to join him in Paris as an assistant, and Jacob went with him for a year. While he was gone, Wilhelm became very interested in German literature and started collecting books. Once Jacob returned to Kassel in 1806, he adopted his brother's passion and changed his focus from law to German literature. While Jacob studied literature and took care of their siblings, Wilhelm continued on to receive his degree in law at Marburg. [1] During the Napoleonic Wars, Jacob interrupted his studies to serve the Hessian War Commission. [2]

In 1808, their mother died, and this was especially hard on Jacob as he took the position of father figure, while also trying to be a brother. From 1806 to 1810, the Grimm family had barely enough money to properly feed and clothe themselves. During this time, Jacob and Wilhelm were concerned about the stability of the family.

Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano were good friends of the brothers and wanted to publish folk tales, so they asked the brothers to collect oral tales for publication. The Grimms collected many old books and asked friends and acquaintances in Kassel to tell tales and to gather stories from others. Jacob and Wilhelm sought to collect these stories in order to write a history of old German Poesie and to preserve history. [1]


The first volume of the first edition was published in 1812, containing 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1815. For the second edition, two volumes containing the KHM texts were issued in 1819 and the appendix was removed and published separately in the third volume in 1822, totaling 170 tales. The third edition appeared in 1837, the fourth edition in 1840, the fifth edition in 1843, the sixth edition in 1850, and the seventh edition in 1857. Stories were added, and also removed, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 210 tales. Some later editions were extensively illustrated, first by Philipp Grot Johann and, after his death in 1892, by German illustrator Robert Leinweber.[ citation needed ]

The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called "Children's Tales", they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter. [3] Many changes through the editions – such as turning the wicked mother of the first edition in Snow White and Hansel and Gretel (shown in original Grimm stories as Hänsel and Grethel) to a stepmother, were probably made with an eye to such suitability. Jack Zipes believes that the Grimms made the change in later editions because they "held motherhood sacred". [4]

They removed sexual references—such as Rapunzel's innocently asking why her dress was getting tight around her belly, and thus naively revealing to the witch Dame Gothel her pregnancy and the prince's visits—but, in many respects, violence, particularly when punishing villains, become more prevalent. [5]


The brothers' initial intention of their first book, Children’s and Household Tales, was to establish a name for themselves in the world. After publishing the first KHM in 1812, they published a second, augmented and re-edited, volume in 1815. In 1816 Volume I of the German Legends (German : Deutsche Sagen) was published, followed in 1818, Volume II. However, the book that established their international success was not any of their tales, but Jacob's German Grammar in 1819. In 1825, the Brothers published their Kleine Ausgabe or "small edition", a selection of 50 tales designed for child readers. This children's version went through ten editions between 1825 and 1858.

In 1830, Jacob became a professor at University of Göttingen and in 1835, Wilhelm also became a professor. During these years Jacob wrote a third volume of German Grammar and Wilhelm prepared the third revision of the Children’s and Household Tales. [1]

In 1837, King Ernst August II revoked the constitution of 1833 and was attempting to restore absolutism in the Kingdom of Hanover. Since Göttingen was a part of Hanover, the brothers were expected to take an oath of allegiance. However, the brothers and five other professors led a protest against this and were heavily supported by the student body since all of these professors were well renowned. Jacob left Göttingen immediately and Wilhelm followed him to Kassel a few months later. [6]

In Kassel, the Grimms devoted themselves to researching and studying. A close friend of theirs, Bettina von Arnim, was also a talented writer. Savigny and others convinced the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, to allow the brothers to teach and conduct research at the University of Berlin. In March 1841, the brothers did just this and also continued to work on the German Dictionary . [6]


Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children and Household Tales) is listed by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Registry. [2]

The Grimms believed that the most natural and pure forms of culture were linguistic and based in history. [2] The work of the Brothers Grimm influenced other collectors, both inspiring them to collect tales and leading them to similarly believe, in a spirit of romantic nationalism, that the fairy tales of a country were particularly representative of it, to the neglect of cross-cultural influence. [7] Among those influenced were the Russian Alexander Afanasyev, the Norwegians Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, the English Joseph Jacobs, and Jeremiah Curtin, an American who collected Irish tales. [8] There was not always a pleased reaction to their collection. Joseph Jacobs was in part inspired by his complaint that English children did not read English fairy tales; [9] in his own words, "What Perrault began, the Grimms completed".

W. H. Auden praised the collection during World War II as one of the founding works of Western culture. [10] The tales themselves have been put to many uses. Adolf Hitler praised them so strongly that the Allies of World War II warned against them, as Hitler thought they were folkish tales showing children with sound racial instincts seeking racially pure marriage partners; [11] for instance, Cinderella with the heroine as racially pure, the stepmother as an alien, and the prince with an unspoiled instinct being able to distinguish. [12] Writers who have written about the Holocaust have combined the tales with their memoirs, as Jane Yolen in her Briar Rose . [13]

Three individual works of Wilhelm Grimm include Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen und Märchen ('Old Danish Heroic Songs, Ballads, and Folktales') in 1811, Über deutsche Runen ('On German Runes') in 1821, and Die deutsche Heldensage ('The German Heroic Saga') in 1829.

The Grimm anthology has been a source of inspiration for artists and composers. Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, and Rie Cramer are among the artists who have created illustrations based on the stories.

English-language collections

"Grimms' Fairy Tales in English" by D.L. Ashliman provides a hyperlinked list of 50 to 100 English-language collections that have been digitized and made available online. They were published in print from the 1820s to 1920s. Listings may identify all translators and illustrators who were credited on the title pages, and certainly identify some others. [14]

Translations of the 1812 edition

These are some translations of the original collection, also known as the first edition of Volume I.

Translations of the 1857 edition

These are some translations of the two-volume seventh edition (1857):

List of stories by the Brothers Grimm

Grimm Brothers Grimm1.jpg
Grimm Brothers

The code "KHM" stands for Kinder- und Hausmärchen. The titles are those as of 1857. Some titles in 1812 were different. All editions from 1812 until 1857 split the stories into two volumes.

This section contains 201 listings, as "KHM 1" to "KHM 210" in numerical sequence plus "KHM 151a". The next section "No longer included in the last edition" contains 30 listings including 18 that are numbered in series "1812 KHM ###" and 12 without any label.

Volume 1

Monument to brothers Grimm in the market place in Hanau. (Hessen, Germany) Hanau Bruder Grimm.jpg
Monument to brothers Grimm in the market place in Hanau. (Hessen, Germany)
Frontispiece used for the first volume of the 1840 4th edition Kinder und Hausmarchen (Grimm) 1840 I A 001.jpg
Frontispiece used for the first volume of the 1840 4th edition

Volume 2

Frontispiece used for the second volume of the 1840 4th edition. The portrait by Ludwig Emil Grimm bears resemblance to the storyteller Dorothea Viehmann. Die Maerchenfrau.jpg
Frontispiece used for the second volume of the 1840 4th edition. The portrait by Ludwig Emil Grimm bears resemblance to the storyteller Dorothea Viehmann.

The children's legends (Kinder-legende)
First appeared in the G. Reimer 1819 edition at the end of volume 2.

Removed from final edition

Explanatory notes

  1. A derivative work is Grimm's Fairy Tales, with 212 Illustrations by Josef Scharl (New York: Pantheon Books, 1944) [repr. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1948] [18]
  2. Translated from Kinder- und Hausmärchen gesammelt durch die Brüder Grimm (Munich: Winkler, 1949). Manheim believed this to be a reprint of the second, 1819 edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen, but it was in fact a reprint of the 7th, 1857 edition [19]
  3. See Luke&McKay&Gilbert tr. (1982), p. 41 for details of the edition used.
  4. "The Little Donkey" [21] [22] is the more precisely translated title.
  5. Aliases: "The Gifts of the Little People"; [26] "The Little Folks' Presents". [25] This is the type tale of AT 503, and "The Gifts of the Little People" is its official English title, insofar as Hans-Jörg Uther has published it, [24] and most folklorists tend to follow it.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brothers Grimm</span> Brother duo of German academics and folklorists

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859), were a brother duo of German academics, philologists, cultural researchers, lexicographers, and authors who together collected and published folklore. They are among the best-known storytellers of folk tales, popularizing stories such as "Cinderella", "The Frog Prince", "Hansel and Gretel", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Rapunzel", "Rumpelstiltskin", "Sleeping Beauty", and "Snow White". Their first collection of folk tales, Children's and Household Tales, began publication in 1812.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hansel and Gretel</span> German fairy tale

"Hansel and Gretel" is a German fairy tale collected by the German Brothers Grimm and published in 1812 in Grimm's Fairy Tales. It is also known as Hansel and Gretel, or Little Step Brother and Little Step Sister.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dorothea Viehmann</span> German storyteller

Dorothea Viehmann was a German storyteller. Her stories were an important source for the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. Most of Dorothea Viehmann's tales were published in the second volume of Grimms' Fairy Tales.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Six Swans</span> German fairy tale

"The Six Swans" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's Fairy Tales in 1812. It is of Aarne–Thompson type 451, commonly found throughout Europe. Other tales of this type include The Seven Ravens, The Twelve Wild Ducks, Udea and her Seven Brothers, The Wild Swans, and The Twelve Brothers. Andrew Lang included a variant of the tale in The Yellow Fairy Book.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was</span> German fairy tale

"The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was" or "The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear" is a German folktale collected by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's Fairy Tales. The tale was also included by Andrew Lang in The Blue Fairy Book (1889).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hans My Hedgehog</span> German fairy tale

"Hans My Hedgehog" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. The tale was translated as Jack My Hedgehog by Andrew Lang and published in The Green Fairy Book. It is of Aarne-Thompson type 441.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Three Little Men in the Wood</span> German fairy tale

"The Three Little Men in the Wood" or "The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest" is a German fairy tale collected in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's Fairy Tales. Andrew Lang included it in The Red Fairy Book (1890) as "The Three Dwarfs," and a version of the tale appears in A Book of Dwarfs (1964) by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

How the Devil Married Three Sisters is an Italian fairy tale found in Thomas Frederick Crane's Italian Popular Tales (1885). It was collected and originally published in German as "Der Teufel heirathet drei Schwestern" by Widter and Wolf in 1866.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fitcher's Bird</span> German fairy tale

"Fitcher's Bird" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 46.

"The Three Little Birds" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 96. The story is originally written in Low German. It is Aarne-Thompson type 707, the dancing water, the singing apple, and the speaking bird. The story resembles Ancilotto, King of Provino, by Giovanni Francesco Straparola, and The Sisters Envious of Their Cadette, the story of the 756th night of the Arabian Nights.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Donkey Cabbages</span> German fairy tale

"Donkey Cabbages" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 122. A man shoots birds in a forest and gains magical objects. By also ingesting the heart of one of the bird he shot, he acquires an inexhaustible source of wealth. Later on, his magical abilities and items are stolen by a trio of witches, but regains thanks to a magical herb that causes a transformation into donkeys.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ludwig Emil Grimm</span> German painter

Ludwig Emil Grimm was a German painter, art professor, etcher and copper engraver.

"Thumbling" and "Thumbling's Travels" are two German fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's fairy tales in 1819.

"The Golden Key" is a fairy tale, which is in place 200 of Grimms' Fairy Tales.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">German Fairy Tale Route</span>

The German Fairy Tale Route is a tourist attraction in Germany originally established in 1975. With a length of 600 kilometres (370 mi), the route runs from Hanau in central Germany to Bremen in the north. Tourist attractions along the route are focused around the brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, including locations where they lived and worked at various stages in their life, as well as regions which are linked to the fairy tales found in the Grimm collection, such as The Town Musicians of Bremen. The Verein Deutsche Märchenstraße society, headquartered in the city of Kassel, is responsible for the route, which travellers can recognize with the help of road signs depicting the heart-shaped body and head of a pretty, princess-like creature.

Edgar Taylor was a British solicitor and author of legal, historical, literary works and translations. He was the first translator of Kinder- und Hausmärchen published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, into English, as German Popular Stories in 1823. In 1826 he translated the second volume (1814) of the Kinder- und Hausmärchen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Jew Among Thorns</span> German fairy tale

The Jew Among Thorns, also known as The Jew in the Brambles, is an antisemitic fairytale collected by the Brothers Grimm. It is a tale of Aarne–Thompson type 592. A similar antisemitic tale in the collection is The Good Bargain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Hare and the Hedgehog</span> Well-known German fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm in 1843

The Hare and the Hedgehog or The race between the Hare and the Hedgehog is a Low Saxon fable. It was published 1843 in the 5th edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm in Low Saxon and in 1840 in Wilhelm Schröder's Hannoversches Volksblatt under the full title Ein plattdeutsches Volksmärchen. Dat Wettlopen twischen den Hasen un den Swinegel up de lütje Heide bi Buxtehude. Ludwig Bechstein also published it in German in his Deutsches Märchenbuch (1853).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marie Hassenpflug</span> German fairytale teller

Marie Magdalene Elisabeth Hassenpflug was a German author whose versions of various folk tales were an important source for the collection of tales by the Brothers Grimm. She is best known for her versions of "Little Red Riding Hood" (Rotkäppchen), "Sleeping Beauty" (Dornröschen), and "Snow White" (Schneewittchen).

Yoshiko Noguchi is one of the leading researchers on Grimm's Fairy tales in Japan. She is a professor of German, comparative literature, cultural studies, children's literature, folklore, and gender studies. She is a professor emeritus at Mukogawa Women's University and a professor at division of children's literature, graduate school of Letters, Baika Women's University. She was born in Osaka and her maiden name is Hiiragi. She is different from other researchers in that she discusses how Grimm's fairy tales are accepted in Japan and the UK from an interdisciplinary perspective. She has recently unraveled a long-standing mystery in the history of German-Japanese cultural exchange. She successfully identified three Japanese that visited Jacob Grimm in Berlin in 1862.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Zipes, Jack (2002). The Brothers Grimm : from enchanted forests to the modern world. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN   0312293801. OCLC   49698876.
  2. 1 2 3 Zipes, Jack. "How the Grimm Brothers Saved the Fairy Tale", Humanities, March/April 2015
  3. Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, p15-17, ISBN   0-691-06722-8
  4. "Grimm brothers' fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation". the Guardian. 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  5. Maria Tatar, "Reading the Grimms' Children's Stories and Household Tales" p. xxvii-iv, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm., ISBN   0-393-05848-4
  6. 1 2 Zipes, Jack (2002). The Brothers Grimm : from enchanted forests to the modern world. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN   0312293801. OCLC   49698876.
  7. Acocella, Joan (16 July 2012). "Once Upon a Time". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  8. Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p 846, ISBN   0-393-97636-X
  9. Maria Tatar, p 345-5, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN   0-393-05163-3
  10. Maria Tatar, "Reading the Grimms' Children's Stories and Household Tales" p. xxx, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ISBN   0-393-05848-4
  11. Maria Tatar, "-xxxix, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ISBN   0-393-05848-4
  12. Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 77-8 ISBN   0-679-77663-X
  13. Maria Tatar, "Reading the Grimms' Fairy Stories and Household Tales" p. xlvi, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ISBN   0-393-05848-4
  14. D. L. Ashliman, "Grimms' Fairy Tales in English: An Internet Bibliography", ©2012-2017. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  15. Zipes tr. (2014).
  16. Loo, Oliver (2014). The Original 1812 Grimm Fairy Tales. A New Translation of the 1812 First Edition Kinder- und Hausmärchen Collected through the Brothers Grimm. Vol. 2 vols. (200 Year Anniversary ed.). ISBN   9781312419049.
  17. Hunt tr. (1884).
  18. Luke&McKay&Gilbert tr. (1982), p. 43.
  19. Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987), pp. xxii, 238 n. 22.
  20. Luke&McKay&Gilbert tr. (1982).
  21. Zipes tr. (2014), 2: 456ff.
  22. Ashliman (1998–2020). #144 "The Little Donkey"
  23. Turpin tr. (1907), p. 17–21.
  24. 1 2 Uther (2004), p. 288.
  25. 1 2 Hunt tr. (1884), pp. 298–301.
  26. Zipes tr. (2003).