Ferdinand Grimm: the third brother forgotten because he was gay

Ferdinand Grimm: the third brother forgotten because he was gay
Ferdinand Grimm: the third brother forgotten because he was gay

The Grimm brothers – writers of fairy tales – were not two but three. In addition to the more famous Jacob and Wilhelm, there was Ferdinand Grimm. Younger brother of the large Grimm family is openly gay

The Brothers Grimm are world famous for their fairy tales with roots in the German folk tradition, but among Jacob and Wilhelm was Ferdinand.

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Despite the oblivion to which he was relegated, Ferdinand Grimm played a major role in collecting and disseminating the work of his older brothers. He was also a writer of fairy tales, which he published throughout his life under various pseudonyms. It was a troubled life and always under the constant – and almost oppressive – control of his two older brothers Jacob and Wilhelm.

Ferdinand Grimm was born in Hanau, Germany, on December 18, 1787. Young Ferdinand’s life would change in 1796 – when he was only eight years old – when his father died and he was placed in the care of his older brother Jacob.

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We said that Ferdinand was also a writer of fairy tales-drawn from the German folk tradition-but unlike his famous older brothers, his works were given due recognition, not to mention that to avoid comparison with the two Grimms he never signed his real first and last name.

On Christmas Day 1810, young Ferdinand came out to his family. An unwelcome gesture, in fact, he was turned away. Although there is no official evidence, the fact that young Ferdinand was homosexual was deduced by Germanist Heiner Boehncke after analyzing the terms used by the Grimm brothers in their personal letters about their younger brother. In these letters Jacob and Wilhelm, they speak of “an incurable misfortune” and Ferdinand’s “deviant life.”

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Some of Ferdinand’s most famous fairy tales are:

  1. The Mountain of Cats, which tells of a young man who falls in love with a white cat, who is actually an enchanted princess.
  2. The Prince and the Mermaid, which tells of a prince who rescues a mermaid from a fisherman, and as a reward gets to marry her, provided he never betrays her.
  3. The Bee King, which is about a king who is punished by a bee for destroying his hive, and who must learn to respect nature and animals.
  4. The Giant and the Dwarf, which describes the challenge between a giant and a dwarf, who vie for possession of a valley, and who are eventually reconciled through the intervention of a maiden.
  5. The Headless Horseman, which tells of a horseman who loses his head in battle, and who searches for it throughout the world, encountering various adventures and characters.

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In conclusion, Ferdinand Grimm, the forgotten third brother, played an expressive role in the collection and dissemination of folk tales, although he was long overshadowed by the fame of his brothers. His passion for folklore and his dedication to the preservation of folk traditions make him an important figure in the history of literature and folklore. The time has come to rediscover and celebrate Ferdinand Grimm’s contribution so that his legacy can be fully appreciated and valued.


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