Researchers In Poland Just Uncovered A Long-Lost Trove Of Books That Belonged To The Brothers Grimm

Published April 30, 2024
Updated May 1, 2024

The 27 books from the personal library of the Brothers Grimm are providing new insights into how the men researched and crafted themes for their famous fairy tales.

Brothers Grimm Lost Books

Adam Mickiewicz University LibraryHandwritten notes from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm discovered in a long-lost book from their private collection.

Researchers searching through the library at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, have discovered 27 lost books that belonged to the Brothers Grimm, the 19th-century German siblings who popularized European fairy tales.

The works feature notes and annotations from the two men that may shed light on how the duo selected themes and motifs for their iconic fairy tales. Now, researchers are hoping to locate more of the brothers’ lost books.

Who Were The Brothers Grimm?

Jacob And Wilhelm Grimm

GL Archive / Alamy Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm in 1847.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were the oldest of six children in a German family. The two brothers, born in 1785 and 1786, respectively, were academics who initially studied law.

Later in their careers, the Brothers Grimm began studying European folk stories and published them under the title Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Some of their more notable stories include “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” Their tales stand out for containing dark themes, and academics today recognize the Brothers Grimm as pioneers of German philology.

“They didn’t care so much about white ravens, but about a wide selection of rare editions in the field of history, literature and culture of nations referred to as Indo-European,” a statement from the researchers’ recently-published study notes.

The brothers had a private library in Germany where they would research and write, but many of their books were lost during World War II. For decades, academics have speculated that the violence of the war likely destroyed the remaining collection, but in the last year, researchers have discovered dozens of them at the University Library in Poznań.

With the discovery of 27 missing books that belonged to the Brothers Grimm, researchers have a better understanding of how the men collected stories and decided how to frame their published works.

Finding The Brothers’ Lost Collection In Poland


Adam Mickiewicz University LibraryA rare first edition of Simplicissimus from 1669 annotated by the Brothers Grimm.

In February 2023, professors Eliza Pieciul-Karmińska and Renata Wilgosiewicz-Skutecka from Adam Mickiewicz University decided to search the institution’s library for books that had belonged to the Brothers Grimm.

Over the course of five months, the two professors discovered 27 texts from the brothers’ collection that a German catalog had marked as missing. Researchers believe that the books came to Poland as European library collections were moved during and following World Wars I and II.

Some of the texts include handwritten notes and annotations explaining how the brothers chose themes and motifs for their fairy tales.

“Figures or places of interest to researchers are highlighted, and sometimes longer parts of the text are highlighted. On the back endpaper, Jacob often made a list of marked fragments, e.g., he wrote down proper names and the pages on which they were found,” researchers wrote in their article about the collection.

The findings are incredibly valuable for historians and scholars of the brothers, and researchers are now attempting to find more of their lost works at the library.

After reading about the lost books that belonged to the Brothers Grimm, dive into the dark true stories behind some of Disney’s most beloved movies. Then, learn about Charles Perrault, the father of French fairy tales.

Amber Morgan
Amber Morgan is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.
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Morgan, Amber. "Researchers In Poland Just Uncovered A Long-Lost Trove Of Books That Belonged To The Brothers Grimm.", April 30, 2024, Accessed May 23, 2024.