This book of German Popular Stories is the first English translation of a selection of fairytales collected by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The two volumes of Kinder und Haus Märchen – literally ‘Children’s and Household Tales’ – were first published in Germany in 1812–15. The uncredited translator of the stories was Edgar Taylor, a lawyer and author who spoke German, Italian, Spanish and French. He collaborated with another German speaker, his friend David Jardine, and in the introduction they express the hope that publishing these stories will entertain young and old alike, and help to end the regrettable neglect of the ‘popular tales of England’ as well. The translation was immediately successful and did much to make fairytales an acceptable form of reading material for children in the 19th century. Taylor’s intention that children should enjoy the tales accounts both for his choice of stories – he omitted those containing particularly gruesome passages – and for some of the alterations made in his translation. For example, in a number of the tales he replaced the devil with a giant.
The stories are illustrated by George Cruikshank, and the frontispiece vividly depicts the a storyteller reading aloud to a group of avid listeners. The early German editions of the tales were not illustrated, but the use of Cruikshank’s pictures in the English translation set the pattern for future fairytales.
The edition shown here dates from 1824; the first editions were published in 1823.
- Article by:
- M O Grenby
- Childhood and children's literature
Professor M O Grenby explores the relationship between fantasy and morality in 18th- and 19th-century children’s literature.
- Article by:
- Kimberley Reynolds
- The novel 1832–1880, Childhood and children's literature
Professor Kimberley Reynolds explores how Lewis Carroll transformed logic, literary traditions and ideas about childhood into the superbly inventive and irreverent Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
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