Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Perrault, the Grimms, and Andersen

I thought I'd give you a little trivia about a few well-known fairytale authors.

Charles Perrault

- Perrault was born in 1628-1703.

- From a very young age, he had an independent mind. In school, he had a disagreement with the instructor over philosophy. The instructor turned him out. A friend of his, agreed with Perrault and walked out of school with him. The two boys continued their education themselves. (Hey, hey! Homeschoolers!)

- He continued to be outspoken and independent minded. Sometimes people listened to him and other times. . . not so much. 

- He was a member of the French court.

- For all his forward thinking, it's his fairy tales that we remember although he did write other books. 

- He didn't marry until he was 44, or 55, depending on which source you read. But the point is he didn't marry until much later on in life. I didn't found out how old his wife was, but she died six years after their marriage. (I find that very sad.)

- After her death, Perrault retired to look after his children's education and write. (Isn't that neat?) He had three sons and one daughter (six years, four kids; his poor wife). 

- He was 70 when he published his book of fairytales, called Tales of Mother Goose by some sources and by others Stories or Tales from Times Past with Morals. It included tales like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Red Riding Hood. 

- Perrault's tales often had a written moral at the end.

- He wrote these for the nobility of the French court. Apparently, it was the fashion to take a folk tales of the lower classes and retell them to suit and entertain the upper class.

Grimm Brothers

Jacob and Wilhem Grimm were born in 1785 and 1786.

- They were pretty inseparable throughout their whole lives. They went to school together where they were at first mistreated because they were of a lower class than most of the other students. As they grew up, they worked together as librarians for Jerome, Napoleon Bonaparte's brother. Even after Wilhem married, Jacob (who never married) lived in his brother's house.
- They retold fairytales with German culture, as during that time Germany was being heavily influenced by the French culture. Some of their stories are of French origin, although altered from a German and more Christian perspective. (The French tales usually have fairies in them while the Grimm's very rarely included any fairies.)

- The Grimm brothers originally wrote their book of fairytales for scholars. The stories were very violent and harsh.

- A lot of their stories came from their middle class friends who most often heard these stories from their governesses and/or nurses.

- When the Grimms realized people were reading their book to children. They altered many of the stories and left some out for a more child friendly edition. (Many of the evil step-mothers in fairytales were originally biological mothers.)

 - Even after the alterations some of the Grimms' stories are still very violent and horrific. (You probably knew this.) They receive a lot of criticism for this as well as for the fact that they're stories weren't that of the lower classes and not always strictly German in origin. 

Hans Christian Andersen

- Andersen was Danish and lived from 1805-1875.

- Despite wanting to be a writer, he had difficulty in school. It is supposed that he had dyslexia.

- He often memorized stories in order to retell them/perform them to people.

- His instructors actually discouraged him from writing because they thought it was frivolous. His friends would accuse him of "writing too much." (Whoever heard of such a term?)

- His first published work was a poem entitled The Dying Child.

- He traveled often and wrote books about his travels.

- Not all of his fairytales are retellings of oral stories, some of them are of his own making.

- The Snow Queen is one of his own tales and is his longest tale with seven "stories" or chapters.

- In Denmark, they actually have a festival to celebrate Andersen and his fairytales.

- Out of all of these, I like the way Andersen writes the most.

Hope you liked this! 

Do you have anything to add? Any interesting tidbits of information? Or do you know of another well known fairytale writer?


  1. I didn't know anything about these guys. Perrualt was a homeschooler, that's awesome.

    1. Isn't it? I really thought that was neat. It makes me wonder, what did his parents think when he came home from school that day? Where they disappointed that their son always had to be so outspoken? Or were they proud of him for thinking on his own and standing up for what he believed?

  2. Oooh, these are all so interesting. Homeschooling for the win! I wasn't much of a fan of Grimm's fairytales when I was younger, but I do like them more now. They're definitely not suitable for children, even in their watered-down state--well, some of them are, but most aren't. I do think it's interesting that they made them so morbid and intense.

    Hans Christian Andersen is my favorite as well. He had such a lovely way of capturing melancholy and sadness. *nods*

    Thanks for sharing! This was a lovely idea, and I really enjoyed reading about these authors. :)

    1. It is really interesting that the Grimms' stories are so dark. But the stories weren't necessarily their own either. I wonder how dark the stories were before the Grimm brothers started changing them.

      He does so well!

      I'm glad you liked it!

  3. Do you know what the philosophical debate was?

    "As they grew up, they worked together as librarians for Jerome, Napoleon Bonaparte's brother." <-- That's so interesting! Reading Les Mis at the moment I am v interested in Napoleon at the moment.

    That's so funny about how Jacob kept living with them. Poor Mrs Grimm XD (Or maybe he was like a really cool uncle whom the kids loved and he told them heaps of stories.)

    It's so interesting about how they took out the fairies (I suppose Sleeping Beauty would be a big exception to that?) and yet left in so much brutality. We've all heard about how creepy the originals were (I've heard about bestiality in the original Red Riding Hood, for example, but I don't know if that's true?), and of course when you analyse a lot of them -- especially the princes kissing corpses -- it's just WEIRD. I'm also v interested in the fact they changed biological mothers to stepmothers. I guess they were taking out moral nuance; children must not know that their parents are fallible!

    You said Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Red Riding Hood were in Perrault (I've never heard of him before, incidentally). Did the Grimms retell all of those? (I guess they'd've read Perrault's book in French?)

    I don't know that I've read Andersen's actual book, not for years at least. I was reading a Grimm book recently but I wasn't madly keen on the writing. Don't know if I'm just being picky.

    Great post! Looking forward to getting to the rest of this series :)

    1. I can't remember if the articles I read mentioned what the debate was about.

      I know that's what I thought about Jacob too. XD But I bet he was cool with the kids.

      I read somewhere that they had a reverence for family life so that's why the Grimm's changed the biological evil mothers to step mothers? I guess that's true.

      Yes, actually, the Grimms adapted those stories. They're country's culture at the time was heavily influenced by the French culture. They got a lot of their stories from their friends who in turn got a lot of the stories from their childhood governesses and nannies, who were often French.

      Grimm is good story-wise, but I don't much like the writing style. Andersen's writing though is very lyrical and beautiful. I really like it.


[insert witty saying about comments] And you may insert your comment below. :)