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Grimms' Fairy Tales

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Grimms' Fairy Tales
Title page of first volume of Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1819) 2nd ed.
AuthorJacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Original titleKinder- und Hausmärchen
(lit. Children's and Household Tales)
Publication placeGermany
TextGrimms' Fairy Tales at Wikisource

Grimms' Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children's and Household Tales (German: Kinder- und Hausmärchen, pronounced [ˌkɪndɐ ʔʊnt ˈhaʊsmɛːɐ̯çən], commonly abbreviated as KHM), is a German collection of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, first published on 20 December 1812. Vol. 1 of the first edition contained 86 stories, which were followed by 70 more tales, numbered consecutively, in the 1st edition, Vol. 2, in 1815. By the seventh edition in 1857, the corpus of tales had expanded to 200 tales and 10 "Children's Legends". It is listed by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Registry.


Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were two of ten 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. 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 received no stipends because of their social standing but were content since this kept the distractions away.[1]

Professor Friedrich Carl von Savigny[edit]

Jacob attended the university first. He reportedly showed proof of his hard work ethic and quick intelligence.[citation needed] 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 Kinder- und Hausmärchen (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 und 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, became 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. The book that established their international success was 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 illustrated by Ludwig Emil Grimm. This children's version went through ten editions between 1825 and 1858.


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] Their work 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.[6] 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.[7] 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;[8] 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.[9] 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;[10] 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.[11] Writers who have written about the Holocaust have combined the tales with their memoirs, as Jane Yolen in her Briar Rose.[12]

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[edit]

"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.[13]

1812 edition translations[edit]

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

  • Zipes, Jack, ed., tr. (2014) The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: the complete first edition.[14]
  • Loo, Oliver ed., tr. (2014) The Original 1812 Grimm Fairy Tales. A New Translation of the 1812 First Edition Kinder- und Hausmärchen Collected through the Brothers Grimm[15][self-published source?]

1857 edition translations[edit]

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

  • Hunt, Margaret, ed., tr. (2014) Grimm's Household Tales, with Author's Notes, 2 vols (1884).[16][a]
  • Manheim, Ralph, tr. (1977) Grimms' Tales for Young and Old: The Complete Stories. New York: Doubleday.[b]
  • Luke, David; McKay, Gilbert; Schofield, Philip tr. (1982) Brothers Grimm: Selected Tales.[19][c]


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 "Removed from final edition" contains 30 listings including 18 that are numbered in series "1812 KHM ###" and 12 without any label.

Volume 1[edit]

Monument to brothers Grimm in the market place in Hanau. (Hessen, Germany)
Frontispiece used for the first volume of the 1840 4th edition

Volume 2[edit]

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[edit]


  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][17]
  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[18]
  3. ^ See Luke&McKay&Gilbert tr. (1982), p. 41 for details of the edition used.
  4. ^ "The Little Donkey"[20][21] is the more precisely translated title.
  5. ^ Aliases: "The Gifts of the Little People";[25] "The Little Folks' Presents".[24] 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,[23] and most folklorists tend to follow it.


  1. ^ a b c d Zipes, Jack (2002). The Brothers Grimm : from enchanted forests to the modern world. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0312293801. OCLC 49698876.
  2. ^ a b c 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. ^ Acocella, Joan (16 July 2012). "Once Upon a Time". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  7. ^ Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p 846, ISBN 0-393-97636-X
  8. ^ Maria Tatar, p 345-5, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Maria Tatar, "-xxxix, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ISBN 0-393-05848-4
  11. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 77-8 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  12. ^ Maria Tatar, "Reading the Grimms' Fairy Stories and Household Tales" p. xlvi, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ISBN 0-393-05848-4
  13. ^ D. L. Ashliman, "Grimms' Fairy Tales in English: An Internet Bibliography", ©2012-2017. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  14. ^ Zipes tr. (2014).
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Hunt tr. (1884).
  17. ^ Luke&McKay&Gilbert tr. (1982), p. 43.
  18. ^ Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987), pp. xxii, 238 n. 22.
  19. ^ Luke&McKay&Gilbert tr. (1982).
  20. ^ Zipes tr. (2014), 2: 456ff.
  21. ^ Ashliman (1998–2020). #144 "The Little Donkey"
  22. ^ Turpin tr. (1907), p. 17–21.
  23. ^ a b Uther (2004), p. 288.
  24. ^ a b Hunt tr. (1884), pp. 298–301.
  25. ^ Zipes tr. (2003).


External links[edit]