Grimms' Fairy Tales

Rebroadcast: originally broadcast on October 17, 2012.

From Cinderella to Rapunzel to the really gruesome tales you might not know – the myth and magic of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales.

Hansel and Gretel by Arthur Rackham 1909.

Hansel and Gretel by Arthur Rackham 1909.

Once upon a time – 200 years ago, to be exact – across a great sea, near a deep woods, there were two brothers named Grimm who collected stories.  They were hearth and fireplace tales, kitchen and lamplight tales, of swans and wolves, of magic spells and little men in the woods, of a frog prince, a sleeping beauty, a brave little tailor.

And lots and lots of chopping and killing and ravaging and rebirth.  Gripping, gruesome, deep-rooted folk stories called fairy tales.  With very few fairies.

This hour, On Point:  looking again at the Brothers Grimm and the tales they shared.  Fairy tales.

-Tom Ashbrook


Maria Tatar, professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures.  She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature. She’s the author of the new book, The Annotated Brothers Grimm (The Bicentennial Edition).

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post “Mother and Daddy dear — not an evil stepmom — take Hansel and Gretel out in the woods and leave them to starve. Little Red Riding Hood does a striptease for the Big Bad Wolf. Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to force the mangled stumps into the glass slipper.”

BBC “Ms Robinson’s daughter, artist Chloe Cheese, who had donated her mother’s work to the Essex museum, said: “The beautiful pen and ink drawings and delicate text of this book fascinated me when I was a child and drew me into the enchanted world of the fairy tale.”

Excerpt: The Annotated Brothers Grimm

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.


“The Sleeping Beauty” — Tchaikovsky

“Hello, Little Girl,” from “Into the Woods” — Stephen Sondheim

Overture from “Hansel and Gretel” — Engelbert Humperdinck

Soundtrack to “The Brothers Grimm” — by Dario Marianelli

“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” — Cinderella (Disney)

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