Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Contributions: Remembered as the authors of probably the best-known book of fairy tales in the Western world, the Grimm brothers were two of the most noted philologists of the nineteenth century. They made significant contributions to linguistic theory, folklore, and the study of the German language and its literature.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born to a rather well-to-do family in a small village in what is now central Germany. Their father was a lawyer, judge, and public servant; however, he died suddenly at the age of forty-four, leaving his widow and his eleven-year-old son Jacob to take care of the other five children. Though times were financially difficult, Jacob and Wilhelm advanced academically, and by 1803 they were both studying law at the University of Marburg. Under the influence of a professor of legal history, the Grimm brothers became interested in the origins of the law and its growth and development in a cultural context. They also took up the study of philology (the investigations of ancient languages and texts) and began a serious inquiry into German folklore and linguistics. In 1825 Wilhelm married Dortchen Wild (who, along with other members of her family, provided the brothers with many of the folktales they would later use in their collections); Jacob never married.
In 1813, after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, Jacob became a member of the local...
(The entire section is 2065 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!