Commemorate The Birth Of A Famous German Writer

On January 4, 1785, one of Germany’s most famous writers was born. His name was Jakob Ludwig Carl Grimm, better known as one half of the Brothers Grimm. Jakob was the eldest brother, just one year older than Wilhelm.

While their stories are well-known throughout the world, the life of these intriguing men is still a mystery to many.

Born in the small town of Hanau, the brothers lived an “idyllic” childhood in the glorious countryside. Their father worked for the Prince of Hesse and the boys enjoyed many luxuries, like proximity to the local magistrate’s estate.

Grimm lost his father at the age of 15. The boys and their mother were soon forced to abandon their perfect life in the country for a cramped, unpleasant one in the city. Many scholars speculate that this is the reason why the Grimm’s tales feature so many stories of wicked mothers and abandoned children!

Although he began his career as a lawyer, Jakob realized his love for the old tales of history after becoming acquainted with Friedrich Karl von Savigny and his lectures on Roman law. Grimm moved to Paris at von Savigny’s invitation and was soon perusing medieval literature rather than giving legal advice.

In 1808, following his mother’s death, Jakob Grimm received a job from Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte, the youngest brother of General Napoleon Bonaparte himself, who was the King of Westphalia. Jakob began his work as the superintendent of the king’s private library.

The eldest Grimm brother enjoyed the fair winds of good political fortune for some time, getting promoted and obtaining other enviable positions. However, his good luck came to an end when he, along with brother Wilhelm, signed a protest letter against the King of Hanover, who had annulled their constitution. The Grimm brothers were unceremoniously banished from the kingdom.

Before this unfortunate event in 1837, the Grimms had been ensuring their place in the history books through more than just their famous collection of fairy tales. Jakob wrote about what is now known as “Grimm’s Law” in his book, Deutsche Grammatik. This theory explained the linguistic phenomenon of the sound shifts in modern language.

After their banishment, both Jakob and Wilhelm returned to Kassel, which presently is the home of the Brothers Grimm Museum, until the King of Prussia invited them to Berlin. They received professorships and together, the brothers also published a dictionary.

Of course, the Brothers Grimm are best known for their amazing fairy tales, which have survived the test of time and reached all corners of the globe. The daring fans of the Brothers Grimm can embark on the German Fairy Tale Road and experience the hometowns of the brothers first-hand, like the town of Hanau or Kassel.

They can also see the real-life inspiration behind many of their darkest and weirdest stories. Visit Schwalmstadt with its red-hooded little girls, or venture to the Rapunzel tower in Trendelburg. And of course, don’t leave out those most famous cities of Hamelin (of Pied Piper fame) and the musical town of Bremen!

—Marcus

 

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