Today is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Grimm's Fairy Tales—but while most people know many of those European folk tales, far fewer know about the odd German brothers, Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, who compiled them. The brothers were born into wealth, but the death of their father when they were still children sent the family into poverty, reliant on handouts from relatives, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Hard times made the brothers extremely close, and even after Wilhelm got married in 1825, one scholar notes that the brothers "both live[d] in the same house, and in such harmony and community that one might almost imagine the children were common property."
After university, both brothers worked as librarians in Kassel, where they started writing down local folk tales around 1806, publishing their first book of 86 stories under the title Children's and Household Tales. "They were very offensive characters, they were workaholics, moralists, and freaks," said one expert on the Grimms, according to Deutsche Welle. Wilhelm died in 1859, sending Jacob into a depression that lasted until he, too, died in 1863.