chapter  Chapter 1
11 Pages

Childhood in Hanau and Steinau

1785–1798
ByRuth Michaelis-Jena

Jacob Ludwig Carl–to be known as Jacob Grimm–was born in Hanau on 4 January 1785, and Wilhelm Carl–Wilhelm–a year later, on 24 February 1786. Over the centuries Hanau had grown from a small mainly agricultural community of humble low-roofed, often timbered houses, into a prosperous little town extending beyond the bounds of its medieval walls. The Grimms’ home was a typical German Burgerhaus, roomy, comfortable, unpretentious. Towns were still closely linked with the country – where the bulk of the population lived – and many townsmen were Ackerburger who, in addition to their gardens, owned or had leased land outside the city walls. Steinau evenings were spent sitting round a large table, with much chatting and receiving visits from neighbours and friends. Within earshot of wars and bloody revolutions Jacob and Wilhelm had experienced an idyllic childhood, loved and cared for, in harmony with the countryside and people around them.