Grimm's Fairy Tales is a famous collection of German folk tales. Most of them were collected by two brothers, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. The most famous tales include "Hansel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Snow-White," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," and "Rapunzel." As the Grimms knew, some of their stories had been previously published, especially in Italy and France.
Between 1807 and 1814, the Grimms collected the tales mainly from friends and acquaintances who lived in and around Kassel, Germany. The brothers published the tales to preserve work they believed was created by the people. They regarded the tales as an expression of the spirit of the German people, and they worried that fewer and fewer people could tell the tales accurately.
The Grimms tried to retell the stories faithfully, but made changes to suit public taste or their ideas about how to tell the tales most effectively. The brothers gathered many tales themselves, including those stories told to them by a woman who came to town to sell garden produce.
The first volume (1812) contained 86 tales. The second (1815) contained 70. Jakob spent much time helping Wilhelm collect tales for the first volume, but the second volume and later editions were largely Wilhelm's work. By the last edition of 1857, there were 210 tales. The Grimms collected most of the last stories, as well as some from the first edition, from printed sources.
In collecting the tales, the Grimms were influenced by the romantic movement in German literature. German romanticism expressed itself in many ways, but it dealt chiefly with German history and mythology, nature, fantasy, and the supernatural. All these elements appear in Grimm's Fairy Tales.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), was Denmark's most famous author. His fairy tales are among the most widely read works in world literature. His stories of make-believe have enchanted young readers around the world for generations.
Andersen wrote with wisdom, deliberate simplicity, and often with sly humour. Like Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Andersen's fairy tales can be considered both children's and adult literature. Many of Andersen's fairy tales have serious moral meanings intended for adults.
Andersen gave each tale its own style, but his stories can be roughly classified into several groups: folk tales ("The Tinder Box," "Little Claus and Big Claus," and "The Travelling Companion"); tales based on Andersen's life ("The Ugly Duckling" and "She Was Good for Nothing"); tales about Denmark ("The Wind Tells About Valdemar Daae and His Daughters" and "Holger Danske"); tales that make fun of human faults ("The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Rags"); and philosophical tales ("The Story of a Mother" and "The Shadow").
Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, on April 2, 1805. He was the son of a poor shoemaker who died when Hans was 11 years old. After attending the city school for poor children, Andersen left Odense at the age of 14 to seek a career in Copenhagen. He nearly starved while trying to earn a living as an actor, singer, and dancer. In Copenhagen, he met Jonas Collin, who became his lifelong friend. Collin helped him get a royal scholarship, which permitted Andersen to continue his education from 1822 to 1828.
In 1829, his first play, Love in St. Nicolai Church Tower, was produced. For several years, Andersen's reputation as a writer rested on his many plays and novels. But his plays are no longer produced. His novels, the best of which is The Improvisation (1835), are now seldom read outside of Scandinavia.
Andersen published the first of his 156 fairy tales in 1835, and continued writing them until he died. The tales first appeared in a series of pamphlets, and later were collected and published in books. The stories became popular in the early 1840's, and made Andersen famous. His acquaintances included royalty and such fellow artists as the composer Franz Liszt, the poet Heinrich Heine, and the novelists Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. Andersen travelled throughout Europe and wrote many books about his experiences. A Poet's Bazaar (1842) and In Sweden (1851) are probably his best travel books. He also wrote an autobiography called The Fairy Tale of My Life (1855).
Andersen was a sensitive man who eagerly sought fame and success. He never married, although he fell in love with three women, including the Swedish singer Jenny Lind and the daughter of Jonas Collin. None of the women returned his love. But Andersen won admiration and fame for his writing.
Charles Perrault, (1628-1703), a French writer, is best known for a book of fairy tales he collected, Tales of Mother Goose. The collection, published under his son's name in 1697, includes "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Bluebeard," "Puss in Boots," "Cinderella," and "Tom Thumb."
Perrault was born in Paris. He became a high-ranking civil servant and a member of the French Academy under King Louis XIV. His older brother was the famous architect and scientist Claude Perrault. Charles was known for his progressive, evolutionary view of history. He helped start a famous literary battle called "The Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns." In The Century of Louis the Great (1687) and Parallels Between the Ancients and the Moderns (1688), he argued that the culture of his own time was superior to the culture of classical Greece and Rome. He felt that the "Moderns" would win the battle through science, the rational philosophy of Rene Descartes, and progress in knowledge, culture, and literature