The Brothers Grimm

Find out about the Brothers Grimm and their fairy tales!

Once upon a time, over two hundred years ago, there were two German brothers called Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The brothers worked as lawyers and librarians, and later on became university professors. In their free time, they had a really interesting hobby – collecting fairy tales!

In those days, there was no television, radio or internet, so people gathered together in the evenings to hear storytellers tell tales like Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel.

The brothers liked nothing more than travelling all around Europe and listening to local storytellers tell their fairy tales. Then, they wrote them down in a big book for everyone to enjoy.

This book was published in 1812 – that’s over two hundred years ago!

What is your favourite Grimm fairy tale?

Have you ever heard of Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)? I’m the Big Bad Wolf, the baddie in the story!

A lot of the fairy tales collected by the brothers come from Germany. Some of them are very famous in the UK, like Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but have you heard of Frau Holle or Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten? These were also written down by the Brothers Grimm, and you can read them in German on the voyage kids website.

The German names of the fairy tales often sound quite different from their English names. See which ones you recognise:


Hänsel und Gretel
Schneewittchen und die Sieben Zwerge
Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten
Der Froschkönig


Hansel and Gretel
Little Red Riding Hood
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
The Town Musicians of Bremen
Sleeping Beauty
The Frog Prince

Did you know…?

  • The Brothers Grimm also created a German dictionary.
  • The ‘Deutsche Märchenstraße’ (German Fairy Tale Route) is a real-life route which includes all of the fairy tales and events in the lives of the Brothers Grimm. It goes from Bremerhaven on the north German coast to Hanau in the middle of Germany.
  • Most fairy tales begin with the words “Once upon a time…”. In German, this is “Es war einmal…“.

Words Ahoy! · Wörter Ahoi!

Deutsch English
das Märchen fairy tale
Es war einmal … Once upon a time …
der Held hero
der Bösewicht baddie
die Brüder brothers


The German Fairy Tale Route

Check out the BBC’s animated version of the German fairytale Frau Holle!