Wilhelm Grimm

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Wilhelm (left) and Jacob Grimm, double portrait by Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann (1855), oil on canvas, National Gallery Berlin
Signature Wilhelm Grimm.PNG

Wilhelm Carl Grimm (born February 24, 1786 in Hanau , † December 16, 1859 in Berlin ) was a German linguist and literary scholar as well as a collector of fairy tales and legends . His curriculum vitae and work are closely linked to that of his one year older brother Jacob Grimm , as indicated by the often used term Brothers Grimm .


Wilhelm Grimm spent his youth in Steinau an der Straße , where his father Philipp Wilhelm Grimm had been transferred as a bailiff in 1791. Like his brother Jacob, he then attended the Friedrichsgymnasium in Kassel and also enrolled at the University of Marburg , where he studied law with Friedrich Carl von Savigny . After finishing his studies he lived again with his mother in Kassel. Asthmatic symptoms and a heart disease prevented him from applying for permanent employment for a long time. Since 1806 he and his brother Jacob have been collecting fairy tales , which they later edited and published. He was u. a. supported by Werner and August von Haxthausen . In 1809 he underwent a cure with the famous doctor Johann Christian Reil in Halle / Saale . On this occasion he was hospitably received by the composer Johann Friedrich Reichardt . He then traveled to Berlin with Clemens Brentano ; there he lived with him and with Achim von Arnim in his apartment. On the return trip to Kassel he met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , who praised his "efforts in favor of a long-forgotten culture". In 1813 he met the sisters Jenny and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff , the poet, from the Haxthausen family . Both helped with the collection of fairy tales and folk songs. He then had a long pen friendship with Jenny, and there are also indications that there was an unfulfilled love affair between them.

From 1814 to 1829 Grimm was employed as a secretary at the library in Kassel. On May 15, 1825 , he married Henrietta Dorothea Wild . Their son Jakob was born in April 1826, but he died in December of the same year. In January 1828, his second son, Herman Grimm , was born, who later became relatively famous for his art history lectures using slide projection at the University of Berlin. The third son Rudolf was born in March 1830.

In 1831 Wilhelm Grimm became a librarian at the University of Göttingen , and in 1835 he was given an extraordinary professorship there. As a co-signer of the protest of the “ Göttinger Sieben ”, he - like his brother - was removed from office in 1837 by the King of Hanover. The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV invited both of them to Berlin in 1841, where they settled. In the same year they became members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences . In 1848 he was a member of the pre-parliament . In 1852 he was elected a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . Wilhelm Grimm taught at the University of Berlin for 18 years until his death and worked there with his brother on their German dictionary , which he had spoken about at the Germanistenag in Frankfurt in 1846.


The grave of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and three of Wilhelm's children in the Old St. Matthew Cemetery in Berlin

In addition to working together with his brother, Wilhelm Grimm concentrated his research on the poetry of the Middle Ages, German heroic sagas and rune research . Together with his brother he founded the ancient German studies, German linguistics and German philology.

Both became famous for their collection of Children's and Household Tales (2 volumes, 1812–1815), which Wilhelm played a special role in editing, and for their work on the German Dictionary (from 1838, 1st volume 1854). In 1839 he published the works of his friend Achim von Arnim . Wilhelm Grimm also published old Danish hero songs, ballads and fairy tales. But hardly anyone knows that the Brothers Grimm also dealt with the runes and are the founders of runology .

The Berlin Academy wrote in January 1860:

“On the 16th of the previous month, Wilhelm Grimm, a member of the academy who, as a German linguist and collector of German sagas and poems, has a name for bright sound, died. The German people are used to thinking and naming him together with their older brother Jacob Grimm. It embraces few men with such universal love and admiration as the Brothers Grimm, who have known it for half a century in an endeavor and in joint work. "

He was buried in the Old St. Matthew Cemetery in Berlin-Schöneberg (today the honor grave of the city of Berlin). The grave site is in field F, FS-001/004, G1. It has been dedicated to the city of Berlin as an honorary grave since 1952 .


Part of the estate of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, including letters from and to the brothers, various bundles of manuscripts and, above all, hand copies with handwritten additions, is kept in the Hessian State Archives in Marburg . The inventory is fully indexed and can be researched online via HADIS .


Posthumously he received numerous honors with his brother Jacob (see Brothers Grimm ).


Correspondence between the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, critical edition in individual volumes:

  • Volume 1.1: Correspondence between Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm . Edited by Heinz Rölleke . Stuttgart 2001. ISBN 3-7776-1109-3 .
  • Volume 1.2: Legend Concordance . Edited by Heinz Rölleke. Stuttgart 2006. ISBN 3-7776-1204-9 .
  • Volume 2: Correspondence between the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Karl Bartsch, Franz Pfeiffer and Gabriel Riedel . Edited by Günter Breuer, Jürgen Jaehrling and Ulrich Schröter. Stuttgart 2002. ISBN 3-7776-1141-7 .
  • Volume 3: Correspondence between the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Gustav Hugo . Edited by Stephan Bialas. Stuttgart 2003. ISBN 3-7776-1145-X .
  • Volume 4: Correspondence between the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Theodor Georg von Karajan, Wilhelm Wackernagel, Johann Hugo Wyttenbach and Julius Zacher . Edited by Michael Gebhardt, Jens Haustein, Jürgen Jaehrling, Wolfgang Höppner. Stuttgart 2009. ISBN 978-3-7776-1332-1 .
  • Volume 5: Correspondence between the Brothers Grimm and the publishers of the “German Dictionary” Karl Reimer and Salomon Hirzel . Edited by Alan Kirkness and Simon Gilmour. Stuttgart 2007. ISBN 978-3-7776-1525-7 .
  • Volume 6: Correspondence between the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Rudolf Hildebrand, Matthias Lexer and Karl Weigand . Edited by Alan Kirkness. Stuttgart 2010. ISBN 978-3-7776-1800-5 .
  • Volume 7: Correspondence between the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Gustav Freytag, Moriz Haupt, Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben and Franz Joseph Mone . Edited by Philip Kraut, Jürgen Jaehrling, Uwe Meves and Else Hünert-Hofmann. Stuttgart 2015. ISBN 978-3-7776-2487-7 .

Two volumes of the Kassel edition (works and correspondence of the Brothers Grimm):

  • Letters, Volume 1: Correspondence between the Brothers Grimm and Herman Grimm (including the correspondence between Herman Grimm and Dorothea Grimm, née Wild) . Edited by Holger Ehrhardt, Kassel / Berlin 1998. ISBN 3-929633-63-9 .
  • Letters, Volume 2: Correspondence between the Brothers Grimm and Ludwig Hassenpflug (including the correspondence between Ludwig Hassenpflug and Dorothea Grimm, née Wild, Charlotte Hassenpflug, née Grimm, their children and Amalie Hassenpflug) . Edited by Ewald Grothe , Kassel / Berlin 2000. ISBN 3-929633-64-7 .

Works (selection)


Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Grimm  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Wilhelm Grimm  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Federal Archives: Members of the Pre-Parliament and the Fifties Committee (PDF file; 79 kB).
  2. ^ Member entry of Wilhelm Grimm (with picture) at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on February 8, 2016.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Carl Grimm: About German runes, new edition 2009
  4. Overview of the Grimm estate (HStAM inventory 340 Grimm). In: Archive Information System Hessen (Arcinsys Hessen), accessed on January 22, 2013.