"Studied in Marburg." (Herman Grimm)
The Brothers Grimm in Marburg
In 1802 Jacob Grimm matriculated at Marburg University, his younger brother Wilhelm followed him the following year. Both had decided to study law with the famous jurist Friedrich Carl von Savigny, a profound connoisseur of contemporary and historical literature, texts and sources. He was the one who awoke the brothers' passion for historical literature and cultural research. He also mediated the acquaintance with Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim, who provided the first idea for the fairy tale collection.
In many reports and letters, the Grimms rhapsodized about Marburg and the "Castle on the Mountain", that "was gilded by the setting sun ". About the town itself, Jacob Grimm wrote: "I trust there are more steps on the streets than in the houses." How often they climbed up the steps from their residence in the Barfüsserstrasse 35 to the rooms of their professor in the Ritterstrasse, where they enjoyed lectures in practically private surroundings! At that time, the total town population numbered about 6000, and the University in the times of the Grimms had barely 170 students!
Today, Marburg recalls the Brothers Grimm with topical guided tours and fairy tale tours to the showplaces of Otto Ubbelohde's illustrations and graphics which adorn later editions of the famous fairytale collection. In the University Library and in the Hessian Public Record Office there are numerous original treaties and documents; the University Museum offers around hundred treasures belonging to the Grimms family, including a dozen etchings from the "Vedute di Roma" by Piranesi.
Traces of the Brothers Grimm in Marburg
The half-timbered house from the 16th century was domicile of a common household between 1802 and 1805. On April 30, 1802 Jacob Grimm came to study law in Marburg, his brother Wilhelm followed in April 1803, also to study law.
When Jacob Grimm followed his Professor Friedrich Carl von Savigny to Paris on a research trip in 1804, Wilhelm Grimm along with Paul Wigand, a schoolmate from his days in Kassel, moved together into this house.
Ritterstrasse 15 (Forsthof)
The Forsthof was the dwelling of Prof. Friedrich Carl von Savigny (1779 - 1861), a law professor and confidant of the Grimms. The Grimms maintained a lifelong friendship with their professor. Savigny provided contacts to the romanticists Bettina and Clemens Brentano as well as Sophie Mereau, and opened up access to "non-legal" literature for the Grimms. Inspired by von Savignys influence, during their years of study in Marburg the Grimms developed their philological passion for collecting old legends and fairytale texts.
Markt 1 (City hall)
Even if the Grimms found little pleasure in the boisterous life and "drinking bouts" in the town, they sometimes took part in these companionable events. There was a student group of amateur actors in Marburg around 1802/03 which united to form an "enthusiast theatre". Plays and comedies in the (semi-) public surroundings were carried out at irregular intervals, among others also in the Marburg City Hall.
Reitgasse 5 (Hofmännischer Saal)
Apart from the amateur theatre in the City Hall, dance events by and for students enjoyed great popularity. At one ball in the Hofmännischen Saal, Jacob Grimm was "exquisitely well diverted". At a ball in Hanau, Jacob even showed himself to be a connoisseur of the "Marburg tours", convincingly dancing in front of the others at the event.
Reitgasse 7 (Krieger'sche Leihbibliothek)
Also in Marburg, reading societies and lending libraries were very popular between 1766 and 1848. The probably most famous customer of the lending library of Johann Christian Krieger (1747 - 1825, printer, publisher, lending librarian and University bookseller) was the enthusiastic reader Jacob Grimm. In 1831 Noa Gottfried Elwert took over the Krieger'sche lending library, and the business was henceforth brought to new prosperity as N. Gottfr. Elwert's University Bookstore.
St. Elisabeth's Church
Built from 1235 to 1283, it was the earliest pure Gothic hall church in Germany, and an important pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages. Jacob Grimm was also affected by St. Elisabeth's Church and called the structure a "true masterpiece" of Gothic design.
Marburg was hardly an attractive place at the time of the Grimms: the alleys were narrow, steep and dirty, the houses dark, crooked and not soundproof. Jacob Grimm: "The location of Marburg and the surrounding region is certainly very beautiful. Especially when one is in the vicinity of the castle and looks down from there. But the town itself is very ugly. I trust that there are more steps on the streets than in the houses. In one house, the entrance is even through the roof."
The central building of the Marburg University is in the former Dominican Monastery at the current Neo-Gothic old university. The Grimm brothers were conferred the degree of honorary doctor here in 1819. The two devout protestants may have visited the church services in the neighbouring University Church.
Public guided tour "In the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm"
April-October, every last Sunday in the month, 11am from the market place fountain
Guided tour "In the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm" can be booked
Why the Grimm brothers came as law students to Marburg and became fairy tale collectors and founders of the scholarly study of German language and literature can be discovered at enchanting places in the Marburg old town.
Additional Lump sum offerings
- Fairy tale tour
- "A day with the Grimms"
- Enchanting Marburg
- Journey on the Elisabeth II with a storyteller
More information on all guided tours and offerings at www.marburg.de/tourismus
Jubilee events and travel offerings
Information on the jubilee events can be found at Event Calendar of the Topic Year Grimm2013
Additional facts worth knowing on the Brothers Grimm in Marburg
- The "House of Romanticism" at the market square keeps the memory of Grimms and the romanticists alive in Marburg. www.romantikmuseum-marburg.de
- The Otto-Ubbelohde house in Gossfelden near Marburg exhibits among other things the famous fairytale illustrations of Otto Ubbelohde from 1907. www.museen-in-hessen.de