by Jim Weaver-
Once upon a time, many years ago, there were two brothers, Jake and Will, and they loved a good story. They traveled around Germany collecting folk stories that parents told their children. The brothers published their collection “Children’s and Household Tales” in December 1812. It contained 86 tales including classics such as “The Frog Prince”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White,” stories that are still an important part of the children’s literature today.
Between 1812 and 1857 their first collection was revised and republished many times and grew from 86 stories to more than 200. While many people think Walt Disney was the original source, he was simply borrowing the stories collected and published by the Brothers Grimm — Jacob and Wilhelm.
This year, Germany is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Brothers Grimm with a series of exhibits and special events.
The brothers attended the University of Marburg and pursued their interest in philology (the study of language) and Germanic studies, a field in which they are now considered pioneers. At the same time they developed a strong interest in folklore, which grew into a lifelong dedication to collecting German folk tales. The brothers also wrote collections of well-respected German and Scandinavian mythologies and in 1808 began writing a definitive German dictionary.
The Grimm folk tales are available in more than 100 translations and have been adapted to films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty. In 1816 and 1818 they published two volumes of historical legends based on real people and historical places. Famous examples include ‘Cologne Cathedral’, ‘The Mouse Tower of Bingen, ‘The Pied Piper’ and ‘Doctor Luther at Wartsburg Castle’.
These legends come to life along the Legendary Rhine-Romantic Route, which runs for 346 miles and covers over 100 places of interest between Düsseldorf and Mainz. Travelers can visit a total of 48 locations that provided inspiration for the Brothers’ stories.
At the heart of the 2013 Grimm Anniversary celebration is the EXPEDITION GRIMM that runs from April 27 to September 8, 2013 in Hessen (the Brother’s home state). Full event listings are available at www.grimm2013.de
In Hanau, where Jacob and Wilhelm were born, tourists can attend the Brothers Grimm Fairytale Festival from 1 May to 1 July 2013, while in Steinau, where they spent their childhood, there is a puppet festival. The manuscripts of the famous folk tales, listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, are on display as part of a permanent exhibition at the Brothers Grimm Museum in the Palais Bellevue.
Together, the Brothers are the most well-known storytellers of European folk tales. Their work popularized such stories as “Cinderella,” Puss n’ Boots,” “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel” and many more. Jake and Will knew a good tale when they heard it.