F O L K L O R E
C H I L D R E N S' B O O K S
P O E T R Y
Born February 24, 1786
This is a portrait of Wilhelm Grimm in 1815, at the age of twenty-nine, just after the publication of Kinder- und Hausmärchen, known in English as Grimms' Fairy Tales. Nearly every portrait of the Brothers Grimm shows them as older men, but they collected and published their tales when they were in their twenties. Wilhelm went on to revise new editions of the collection for the next 45 years.
The first volume of the first edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales, published in 1812, was a very small book, 6 inches high by 3 1/2 inches wide—about the size of the display on my Kindle.
The book's publisher, Georg Reimer, advertised it as a family read-aloud, and also as a book that would help children learn to read. The book would fit nicely into small hands. The letters are clear, and the space between words and between lines is generous.
This page is from a copy owned by the Brothers Grimm. It shows the beginning of "Hänsel und Gretel." The handwritten note above the title belongs with the preceding tale, "Nasty Flax Spinning," and indicates that Jacob and Wilhelm heard that tale from Jeannette Hassenpflug in 1812. Other handwriting marks changes the brothers want to make in the next printing.
I am an author and folklorist based in Portland, Oregon.
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*Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Kirkus.
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