The Brothers Grimm

Our new Treasures display centres on the fairy tales collected by the brothers Grimm.

FC_Vogel_Wilhelm_Jacob_Grimm (2) copy

2012 sees the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the tales. They were called Kinder- und Hausmaerchen, that is, Children’s and Household Tales.

Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859) had started collecting fairy tales in 1807. They did not go out into the fields, find a peasant or his wife, ask them to tell them a tale and write it down, however. They started by copying fairy tales out of old books in libraries, but then discovered some rich oral sources: their sister Lotte was friendly with a family with six girls across the road, and they told each other tales! Over the next few years, two more such families, or more precisely their daughters, contributed to the fairy tale collection. They even wrote a lot of their tales down themselves and sent them to the brothers. Wilhelm also visited their families and transcribed more material. In the end, when the last edition was edited by the brothers, there were 200 fairy tales and 10 children’s legends! You can surely guess the following ones:

Snowwhite copy




The fairy tales first appeared in English translation in 1823 under the title Popular German Stories. Today they have been translated into over 160 languages! One of them is Igbo, which is spoken in South Eastern Nigeria. A copy of the Igbo translation is on display.

You can also see more academic works by the brothers, such as their German dictionary. They started to work on this in 1838 and published the first volume in 1854. They got to the letter F, and after their deaths the work was continued until the 32nd volume appeared in 1965, 127 years after work had started.

And there are lots of editions, translations and adaptations of the fairy tales too!

The display is open from 19 September to 18 November; entry is free.