The Brothers Grimm and Their Folk Tales

Talk given at Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution in association with the Folklore Society March 2000 for an exhibition of David Hockney’s ‘Grimms’ Fairy Tales etchings’.


At the beginning of the nineteenth century, two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, published a book of folktales based on material gathered from storytellers in central Germany. The volume, known in English as Grimm’s Fairytales, contains some of the best-known fairy tales full of well-loved characters such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and favourite villains such as Rumpelstiltskin and the Wolf. Here is a world in which wicked stepmothers prowl the palaces and witches lurk in the woods, but the hero or heroine always wins out in the end.

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© Juliette Wood