The Brothers Grimm (Die Gebrüder Grimm), Jacob Grimm (January 4, 1785 – September 20, 1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (February 24, 1786 – December 16, 1859), were German academics, prominent linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who jointly collected folklore. The first collection of folk tales, Children's and Household Tales (German: ''Kinder- und Hausmärchen'', was published in 1812. The Grimms are among the best-known story tellers of European folktales, and their work popularized such stories as "Cinderella", "The Frog Prince" (Der Froschkönig), "Hansel and Gretel" (Hänsel und Gretel), "Rapunzel", "Rumpelstiltskin" (Rumpelstilzchen), and "Snow White" (Schneewittchen).
As children the brothers lived first in Hanau and then in Steinau, but the death of their father in 1796 caused great poverty for the family, which the two brothers continued to experience for much of their life. The brothers were educated at the University of Marburg where they became interested in philology and Germanic studies—a field which they pioneered. Their interest in folklore grew into a life-long dedication to collecting German folk tales. In addition to writing and modifying folk tales, the brothers wrote well-respected German and Scandanavian mythologies, and in 1808 began the project of writing a definitive German dictionary (Deutsches Wörterbuch), uncompleted in their lifetime.
The rise of romanticism in the 19th century revived interest in traditional folk stories, which the Grimm brothers believed to be a pure form of national literature and culture. The brothers established a methodology for collecting and recording folk stories that became the basis for studies in folklore, initially with the intention of researching a scholarly treatise about folk tales; between 1812 and 1857 their collection of Kinder- und Hausmärchen went through many editions and modifications, and grew from 86 stories to more than 200. The popularity of the Grimms' collected folk tales endured well beyond their lifetimes. The tales are available in more than 100 translations and have been adapted to popular Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty. In the mid-20th century the tales were used as propaganda by the Third Reich; later in the 20th century, although original versions of some of the tales were sanitized of cruel and violent scenes, psychologists such as Bruno Bettelheim reaffirmed the value of the work.
Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm were born on 4 January 1785 and 24 February 1786 respectively, in Hanau, Germany, near Frankfurt in Hessen. Their parents were Philipp Wilhelm Grimm, a jurist and Dorothea Grimm, née Zimmer, daughter of a Kassel city councilman. The two brothers were the eldest in a family of nine children.