e remember Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm for something they hadn't planned on becoming: storytellers for children. The Brothers Grimm saw themselves as scholars and patriots bent on preserving their Germanic culture as Napoleon strode across Europe.

Jacob Grimm is born in Hanau, a market town in one of the small polities that made up what is now Germany.

Wilhelm (seated)    
and Jacob Grimm

Image courtesy of Hulton     
Getty/Liaison Agency     

Wilhelm Grimm is born, also in Hanau.

The Grimms' father dies, leaving the family in financial distress. An aunt pays for Jacob and Wilhelm to attend a prestigious school in Kassel.

Jacob graduates and moves to Marburg to study law.

Wilhelm graduates and joins Jacob in Marburg.

Jacob drops out of law school, moves back to Kassel, and becomes a civil servant to support the family. To help a writer friend, who hopes to publish a folklore collection, Jacob and Wilhelm begin gathering tales in their spare time.

France invades Kassel.

Wilhelm undergoes treatment for heart troubles.

Impatient with their sluggish friend, the Brothers Grimm, as they style themselves, publish Children's and Household Tales.

France is rousted from central Europe by nations opposing Napolean. Jacob becomes a diplomat, Wilhelm a secretary to the royal librarian in Kassel.

The Grimms publish the second edition of their Tales. Wilhelm emerges as keeper of the stories, while Jacob turns to other scholarly pursuits.

The Grimms' Small Edition (50 tales with illustrations by a third brother, Ludwig) achieves mild commercial success. Wilhelm marries Dortchen Wild. They eventually have three sons.

After Jacob is passed over for a position at the library in Kassel, the Grimms move to Göttingen, where both brothers become librarian-professors.

After refusing to swear allegiance to the king of Hanover, whom they consider despotic, the Grimms lose their jobs and return to Kassel.

The Grimms move to Berlin and resume teaching.

Jacob publishes The History of the German Language, then retires.

Wilhelm retires. Both brothers devote their remaining years to compiling a German dictionary.

The Grimms publish the final edition of their fairy-tale collection.

Wilhelm dies. Jacob eulogizes him as the "fairy-tale brother."

Jacob dies. By the time of their deaths the Brothers Grimm have won respect as leading scholars.

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