The English success of the Grimms’ tales led to all sorts of adaptations for adults and children in the twentieth century — parodies, melodramatic films, vaudeville shows, opera, ballet, comic books, postcards, plays for children and adults, musicals, paintings, photographs, and so on. The Grimms stories became Anglicized and, of course, Americanized through the Disney films and merchandise. Two extremes became noticeable in Great Britain and North America: a trivialization of the Grimms’ tales that transformed them into amusing products for profit; and a critical exploration and interpretation of the tales that endowed them with great cultural significance. Indeed, these so-called “German” tales collected by the Grimms and appropriated by Anglo-Americans become very much part of the British and American cultural heritage.
Two new books testify to the extraordinary legacy of the Grimms’ tales in England, North America, and other English-speaking countries: Sara Maitland’s Gossip from the Forest: The Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales (2012) and Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version (2012). Both writers have previously published numerous fairy tales, but with these new books, they acknowledge an even greater cultural debt to the Grimms’ stories and make a significant contribution to their ongoing heritage in England, as well as in other English-speaking countries.