Happy Birthday Wilhelm Grimm
24th February 2016
Wilhelm Grimm was born on this day in 1786. Ellie Jones spells out the links with the Cathedral's Library and Archive:
Wilhelm Grimm is probably best known to us today as one of the two 'Brothers Grimm' (together with his elder brother Jacob). The brothers famously collected folk and fairy stories, which were mostly passed down by oral tradition, and published them as Kinder und Hausmärchen (1812) [in English Nursery and Household Tales, now commonly known as Grimm's Fairy Tales]. The collection included 'Rapunzel', 'Hansel and Gretel', the 'Elves and the Shoemaker' and many more which are still popular today (albeit often in heavily modified versions). The brothers lived and worked together closely throughout their lives, and between them they researched and wrote extensively mostly, but not exclusively, on German literature, language and grammar. Of the two it was Wilhelm who was perhaps the better story-teller, and it is largely his words we see in the published Tales. In their later years, the brothers were working on a comprehensive dictionary of the German language, the final volume of which was published in 1960, some 101 years after Wilhelm Grimm's death.
So, why would Exeter Cathedral Library be so interested in Wilhelm Grimm's birthday? The answer is because the Library actually holds copies of several publications by the Grimms. Perhaps one of the more unexpected subjects covered by the Library is 19th century language and philology, largely thanks to Prebendary F.C. Cook. Cook was a biblical scholar, author and linguist - said to know over 50 languages - whose library was bequeathed to the Cathedral when he died in 1889. It is through him and his interests that we come to have these German literary works.
The following is a select bibliography of works by Wilhelm Grimm in the Cathedral Library (all texts are in German, but an English translation of the title is provided for reference):
§ [Hildebrandlied] Die beiden ältesten deutschen Gedichte aus dem achten Jahrhundert; das Lied von Hildebrand und Hadubrand, und das Weissenbrunner Gebet; zum erstenmal in ihrem Metrum dargestellt und herausgegeben durch die Bruder Grimm (1812). [[Hildebrand's song] The two oldest German poems from the eighth century; the song about Hildebrand and Hadubrand, and the Weissenbrunn prayer; presented in their metre for the first time and published by the Brothers Grimm].
§ Die deutsche Heldensage (1829). [The German heroic saga].
§ [Bescheidenheit] Vridankes Bescheidenheit; von Wilhelm Grimm (1834). [[Humility/Modesty] Vridanke's humility/modesty; by Wilhelm Grimm].
§ Altdeutsche Gespräche; Nachtrag (1851). [Old German conversations; supplement].
§ Zur Geschichte des Reims (1852). [About the history of the rhyme].