The Brothers Grimm
Jacob Ludwig Karl, the elder of the brothers Grimm, was born in 1785, and Wilhelm Karl in the following year. They both studied at Marburg, and from 1808 to 1829 mainly worked in Kassel as state-appointed librarians, Jacob also assisting in diplomatic missions between 1813 and 1815 and again in 1848. Both brothers had been professors at Göttingen for several years when in 1837 they became two of the seven leading Göttingen academics dismissed from their posts by the new King of Hanover for their liberal political views. In 1840 they were invited by Frederick William IV of Prussia to settle in Berlin as members of the Academy of Sciences, and here they remained until their deaths (Wilhelm died in 1859 and Jacob in 1863).
Jacob, one of Germany’s greatest scholars, is justly regarded as the founder of the scientific study of the German language and medieval German literature. His most monumental achievements were the Deutsche Grammatik (1819—37) and, with his brother’s assistance, the initiation of the great Deutsches Wörterbuch, the many volumes of which were not completed by later scholars until 1961 and which has become the equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary. Between them, and often in collaboration, the Grimms were responsible for pioneering work on medieval texts, heroic epic, legends and mythology, and for many other contributions to the study of ancient German culture. One of their most remarkable publications was the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812, with many subsequent editions), which remains to this day the most famous collection of folktales in the world.