Most people have no clue that the Grimms’ first edition of 1812-15 is totally unlike the final or so-called definitive edition of 1857, that they published seven different editions from 1812 to 1857, and that they made vast changes in the contents and style of their collections and also altered their concept of folk and fairy tales in the process.
By 1805 their entire family had moved from their small village of Hanau to the nearby provincial city of Kassel, and the Brothers were constantly plagued by money problems and concerns about their siblings.
Their father had been dead for some years, and they were about to lose their mother.
Their situation was further aggravated by the rampant Napoleonic Wars. Jacob interrupted his studies to serve the Hessian War Commission in 1806.
Meanwhile, Wilhelm passed his law exams enabling him to become a civil servant and to find work as a librarian in the royal library with a meager salary.
In 1807 Jacob lost his position with the War Commission, when the French occupied Kassel, but he was then hired as a librarian for the new King Jérome, Napoleon’s brother, who now ruled Westphalia.
Amidst all the upheavals, their mother died in 1808, and Jacob and Wilhelm became fully responsible for their three younger brothers and sister.
Despite the loss of their mother and difficult personal and financial circumstances from 1805 to 1812, the Brothers managed to prove themselves to be innovative scholars in the new field of German philology by publishing articles and books on medieval literature.
Still in their twenties, they were about to launch the collection of tales that was to become second in popularity to the Bible throughout Germany and later throughout the western world by the twentieth century.