Life and Work

The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm rank among the most prominent figures in the fields of humanities in German and European cultural history and have achieved world wide success with their “Children’s and Household Tales”. Born in the Hessian shire of Hanau and raised in the little town of Steinau an der Straße, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm spent the “hardest-working and most fruitful time” of their lives in Kassel. Later, they were employed as professors and librarians in Göttingen before going to the Royal Academy in Berlin, where they worked for two decades. Their journey from the small Hessian town of Hanau over the centre of the subsequent electorate Hesse in Kassel to the Prussian and later German capital Berlin marks, like their monumental activities in many fields, the rise of the “small and insignificant” to big and extensive contexts of knowledge. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm became well known all over the world for their fairy tales, which were first published in 1812 and 1815 have been translated into 160 languages and cultural dialects. Most of these have been accompanied by illustrations and are widespread in a million fold of editions. Alongside Luther’s translation of Bible, the Grimm’s collection of fairy tales represents the most famous and best-known German book. In numerous other fields, the Brothers Grimm have also achieved first rate-performances, which might not be very well known by many people. By means of their studies of the Germanic languages and their critical editions of works of medieval literature, they founded a new academic discipline, the “Germanistik”. (German language and literary studies). Furthermore, they made important contributions to the humanities, especially to law theory and mythology. With regards to their methods, the borders of their own country did not limit them. They also used to consider the inner relations and the manifold of mutual influences from other European countries and regions.
The Brothers Grimm rank among the scholars who acted and thought as Europeans in the 19th century, already. Their political work was also inspired by a clear, historical and intercultural concept. In Kassel, the city they worked in for the longest part of their lives, the Brothers-Grimm-Association with the Brothers- Grimm –Museum, which was founded by the association and the municipality of Kassel, have taken care of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s heritage since 1897 and have presented their lives and work in the context of their era since 1959. The association and the museum cooperate with further libraries, museums and institutions in Germany (among others: Hanau, Steinau, Marburg, Göttingen, Haldersleben and Berlin), which maintain collections, exhibitions and do research.