On this day, 209 years ago, the classic and influential collection of folklore turned children’s stories, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, was published.
December 20, 1812, marks the day German folklorists and linguists Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm released their first volume of Kinder-und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales), a collection containing some of the world’s most beloved pieces of literature written.
Its most enduring works, including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel, sparked a universal appeal for children’s narratives and inspired a myriad of adaptations and modern fables.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales was first published in two volumes between 1812 and 1823, before being revised and enlarged multiple times until it comprised some 200 stories.
The tales were stories adopted from oral sources including German folk music and literature, and collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, better known as the Brothers Grimm.
Many of the stories featured are about children and their families and how they reacted to the tough conditions of German life.
The brothers believed the German culture, its stories and morals emanated from its oral tradition as they worked to preserve their cultural heritage.
The collection “aimed at conveying the soul, imagination and beliefs of people through the centuries – or at a genuine reproduction of the teller’s words and ways,” head of the Brothers Grimm Museum in Kassel, Germany, Ludwig Denecke wrote.
Rapunzel, The Golden Goose, Rumpelstiltskin, and Tom Thumb were also famous stories originally published by the Brothers Grimm.
Many of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales have seen cinematic, print, theatrical and animated adaptations since their first German publication — none more so than Snow White.
Now a key pillar under the Disney umbrella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was Walt Disney’s first full-length feature film and the most successful motion picture in history at the time.
Meanwhile, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel have also been reimagined for animated films and adaptations by Disney.
Tangled (2010) was Disney’s last major fairy tale film to use Brothers Grimm source material.