Jacob (* 1785) and Wilhelm (* 1786) were the oldest sons of Dorothea Grimm, neé Zimmer, and Philipp Wilhelm Grimm a Hanau jurist and later the Steinauer district magistrate.
Dorothea Grimm gave birth to a total of nine children in Hanau, three of whom died in infancy. After the death of the father in year 1796, Henriette Philippine Zimmer, the older sister of Dorothea Grimm and a court lady at the landgrave court in Kassel, took the family in. Her concern was primarily focused on the schooling of the two oldest nephews, however also in securing the standard of living of the rest of the family. She contributed from her own resources as well as through intercession with the landgrave.
In 1805 Dorothea Grimm moved to Kassel with her younger children, and after their studies, the brothers likewise moved into the mother's apartment. After the death of their mother in May 1808, Jacob and Wilhelm, supported by their Aunt Zimmer, took charge of the younger siblings: the 21-year old Carl Friedrich (* 1787), the one year younger Ferdinand Philipp (* 1788), the eighteen year old Ludwig Emil (* 1790) and the nestling Charlotte Amalie, called Lotte (* 1793), who now, even though only fifteen years old, had to learn the art of housekeeping.
When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm moved to an apartment in Kassel located in the northern gate in 1814, Lotte moved with them in order to cook and provide for them,– until she married the Higher Justice and later Electoral Hessian Minister Daniel Ludwig Friedrich Hassenpflug in 1822.
Only their sister's departure seems to have prompted Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm to begin thinking of their own marriage. In 1825 Wilhelm then offered his hand to the apothecary daughter Dorothea ("Dortchen") Wild, a neighbour and friend of the family, moreover a contributor of numerous fairy tales. She knew about Jacob's desire never to be separated from its brother. She devotedly attended to her "two men", as she sometimes designated the striking arrangement with gentle irony, up to their death.
The marriage between Wilhelm and "Dortchen" produced, among others, Herman Grimm (*1828), an important art historian and publicist of the 19th century, whom posterity thanks for significant insights in the daily routine of his famous forbears.
The "unknown" and the "painter brother"
Ferdinand Philipp intermittently also lived in the Grimm household, paradoxically making a name for himself as the "unknown brother". He helped his famous brothers in collecting legends, but also published three of his own collections under pseudonyms. Ludwig Emil Grimm, the "painter brother", who had already been matriculated at the drawing academy in Hanau and who moved to Munich in 1808 in order to learn copper plate engraving and etching, returned to Kassel in 1814, where he was hospitably admitted by the sibling trio. In 1825, together with Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern, he founded the Willingshäuser painter colony, the oldest artist association in Europe. In 1832 he married, and in the same year he received a long-desired position as professor and teacher of the historical painting class at the "Academy of Visual Arts" in Kassel.
When Jacob and Wilhelm were expelled from Göttingen in 1837, Ludwig Emil granted his brothers exile. Ludwig Emil made numerous engraved and genre images which give insight into the life of the family. In 1843 he had also created the famous double portrait of his brothers which is today the property of the Hanauer Geschichtsvereins 1844 e.V. (Hanau Historical Society 1844), and which on the occasion of the 200th birthday of the folktale collection in June 2012, even adorns a ten-euro commemorative coin.