Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm

Portrait of Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm

Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm was a German author, linguist, philologist, jurist and folklorist and was known as the discoverer of Grimm’s law of linguistics. He was also co-author of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. He was born in Hanau, Germany on 4th January 1785 and died in Berlin, Germany on 20th September 1863 aged 78.

Major Works

“Deutsche Grammatik” (German Grammar) 4 volumes, (1819, 1826, 1831, 1837)
“Deutsche Rechtsaltertümer” (German Legal Antiquities) (1828) 
“Deutsche Mythologie” (German Mythology) (1835)
German Dictionary (1852)

Note:Grimms’ Fairy Tales” or “Kinder- und Hausmärchen” (Children’s and Household Tales) is a joint collection of 86 stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first published in 1812.


Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm is born on 4th January 1785 in Hanau, Germany. He was the son of a solicitor and town clerk, Phillip Wilhelm Grimm and his wife Dorothea (née Zimmer).

1786: His brother Wilhelm Carl Grimm is born on 24th February.

1787: His brother Carl Friedrich Grimm is born on 24th April.

1788: His brother Ferdinand Phillip Grimm is born on 18th December.

1790: His brother Ludwig Emil Grimm is born on 14th March 14th

1791: His father becomes a magistrate in Steinau and the family move there.

1793: His sister Charlotte Amalie is born on 10th March.

1796: His father dies on 10th January of pneumonia aged only 44 and the family are forced to move out of their accommodation.

1798: In October Jacob and Wilhelm go to a boarding school, the “Lyceum Fridericianum” in Kassel and stay with their mother’s sister Henriette Philippine Zimmer.

1802: He finishes school and studies law school at the Hessian State University in Marburg.

1803: Hesse becomes an electorate.

1804: He meets the writer Clemens Brentano.

1805: He travels to Paris as an assistant to his university tutor at the end of January. His mother and the rest of the children move from Steinau to Kassel.

1806: He is appointed as a secretary at the Hessian war council in Kassel before he has graduated from university. Prussia and her allied are defeated at the battle of Jena on 14th October and Kassel is occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops. He begins his first studies into old German stories and fairy tales.

1807: He retires from his position as the Kingdom of Westphalia is created on 18th August with its capital in Kassel. It is led by Jerôme Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. He meets the writer Achim von Arnim in Kassel and together with Wilhelm the Brothers Grimm work on publishing collections of fairy tales including their second and third volumes of the “The Boy’s Magic Horn”.

1808: His mother dies aged 52 on 20th May in Kassel. In July Jerôme Bonaparte appoints Jacob as the state librarian.

1814: He is created State Auditor by Bonaparte.

1811: He saves the State Library during a fire Kassel Castle.

1812: He travels to Göttingen, Germany in July. The first joint publications of the Brothers Grimm are published including “Song of Hildebrand” and the “Wessobrunn Prayer” as well as the first volume of the “Children’s and Household Tales”.

1813: At the Battle of Leipzig (also known as the Battle of Nations) on 16th-19th October Napoleon’s army is defeated by the Prussian/ Russian coalition. The Elector Wilhelm I returns to Kassel in November. Jacob is appointed Legation Secretary and travels to Paris, France in December. The first volume of the periodical “Old German Forests” is published by the Brothers Grimm.

1814: He travels to Vienna as a diplomat in September where he attends the Viennese Congress. The second volume of “Children’s and Household Tales” by the brothers is published.

1815: He returns to Kassel in July and works for the Hessian and Prussian governments. He visits Paris again in order to return assets seized by Napoleon. Editions of the “Poor Heinrich” and “Edda” appear.

1816: In January Jacob becomes deputy librarian at the Electoral library in Kassel. He travels to Göttingen. The first section of “German Legends” is published.

1819: The University of Marburg honour The Brothers Grimm with an honorary doctorate. The second part of Jacob’s “German Grammar” is published.

1821: The new Elector Wilhelm the Second comes to power.

1822: His sister Lotte marries the lawyer and future Hessian Electoral Secretary of State, Ludwig Hassenpflug. Jacob and Wilhelm move together to a flat at “Fünffensterstraße 7” in Kassel.

1823: He travels to Fulda, Steinau, Büdingen and Gießen. The first English edition of the Grimm’s fairy tales is published in London.

1825: The “Small Edition” of the “Children’s and Household Tales” is published and is illustrated by his brother Ludwig Emil.

1828: His “German Law Antiquities” is published.

1829: The Brothers Grimm are not promoted to Librarian at Kassel and they move to the University of Göttingen on 26th December 26th.

1830: On 2nd January he becomes librarian and professor. On 19th January they move to what is now known as the “Brothers Grimm House” in the “Allee 6”.

1832: The Grimm’s brother in law Ludwig Hassenpflug, is appointed Secretary of State for Internal Affairs and Law.

1833: His sister Lotte dies on 15th June aged 40.

1834: He travels to Brussels and Gent. His “Reinhart Fuchs” is published.

1835: His “German Mythology” is published.

1837: Ernst August of Cumberland ascends the throne and repeals the constitution of 1833 and several professors protest against this including Jacob and Wilhelm. In December the “Göttingen Seven” are tried by the university courts and dismissed. Jacob returns to Kassel on 17th December and lives with his brother Ludwig Emil.

1838: He writes his justification “On His Dismissal”, which is printed in Basel during April. In spring he travels to Thuringia, Franconia and Saxony. The Leipzig publisher Salomon Hirzel contracts the Brothers Grimm to create a “German Dictionary”.

1840: The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV calls the brothers to the Royal Academy for a meeting and Jacob travels to Berlin.

1841: The brothers are met by King Friedrich Wilhelm on 15th March.

1842: He is awarded the Prussian medal “Pour le mérite”.

1843: He travels to Italy.

1844: He is awarded the Prussian Red Eagle Medal in October. He later travels to Denmark and Sweden.

1845: His brother Ferdinand dies in Wolfenbüttel on 6th January.

1846: He chairs the first assembly of scholars of German language and literature in Frankfurt.

1847: He chairs the second assembly of Scholars of German language and literature in Lübeck. He travels to Prague and Vienna.

1848: He travels to the pre-parliamentarian assembly in Frankfurt on 29th March 29th. In May he is elected as a representative by the Rhine-Prussian constituency and he takes part in the meetings of the First German National Assembly in the St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt and because of this gives up his teaching duties. His “History of the German Language”.

1849: He takes part in congress of the “Party of Little Germany” in Gotha.

1852: The first edition of the “German Dictionary” is published.

1853: He is awarded the Bavarian “Maximilian medal”.

1859: Wilhelm Grimm dies aged 73 in Berlin on 16th December.

1860: He gives his academy speeches “On the Old Age” and “On Wilhelm Grimm”.

Jacob Grimm dies on 20th December 1863 after a second stroke. He is buried next to his brother in the Matthäi-Cemetery, Berlin.

Further Information

List of works by Grimm.

Works of Brothers Grimm.