In literature for children there are many important names:
Charles Perrault was a French author of the late 17th century credited with the invention of the fairy tale as a literary genre. The fairy tales that he wrote were rooted in the folklore of the peasantry, but transformed into witty tales with morals told in the fashionable salons of the day. Some of Perrault's most well known fairy tales include "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood," "Puss in Boots," and "Cinderella."
Charles Perrault was born in Paris on 12 January 1628. Though he was not of the nobility, his family was wealthy and able to send him to the finest schools of Paris. Perrault studied law and eventually began to work in government. He helped found the Academy of Sciences and restore the Academy of Painting, and he also acted as the first secretary of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres.Tragedy was the catalyst for Perrault's book of fairy tales, first published in 1697 as Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals: Tales of Mother Goose. When he was 67 years old, Perrault lost his job and his wife. He wrote his book of fairy tales with his children in mind, but soon became a celebrity in France and beyond. Perrault did not live long to enjoy this success, as he passed away in Paris in 1703.
Though Perrault's book contained only eight fairy tales, it has had an immense impact on literature ever since its debut. The Grimm brothers wrote their own versions of some of Perrault's stories, and many of them have served as the inspiration for other literary works or been adapted to theatre and film time and again. The Disney films Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are some of the most memorable of these adaptations.
The Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), were Germanic academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who together collected folklore. They are among the most well-known storytellers of European folk tales, and their work popularized such stories as "Cinderella", "The frog prince", "Hansel and Gretel", "Rapunzel", "Rumpelstiltskin", and "Snow white". Their first collection of folk tales, Children's and Household Tales, was published in 1812.
The brothers spent their formative years first in the German town of Hanau and then in Steinau. Their father's death in 1796, about a decade into their lives, caused great poverty for the family and affected the brothers for many years. They attended the University of Marburg where historian and jurist Friedrich von Savigny spurred their interest in philology and Germanic studies—a field in which they are now considered pioneers—and at the same time developed a curiosity for folklore, which grew into a lifelong dedication to collecting German folk tales.
The rise of romanticism in the 19th century revived interest in traditional folk stories, which to the Grimm brothers represented a pure form of national literature and culture. With the goal of researching a scholarly treatise on folk tales, the brothers established a methodology for collecting and recording folk stories that became the basis for folklore studies. Between 1812 and 1857 their first collection was revised and published many times, and grew from 86 stories to more than 200. In addition to writing and modifying folk tales, the brothers wrote collections of well-respected German and Scandinavian mythologies and in 1808 wrote a definitive German dictionary that remained incomplete in their lifetime.
The popularity of the Grimms' collected folk tales endured well beyond their lifetimes. The tales are available in more than 100 translations and have been adapted to popular Disney films such as Snow white and the seven dwarfs, Sleeping beauty, and Cinderella.
Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."
During his lifetime he was acclaimed for having delighted children worldwide, and was feted by royalty. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages. They have inspired motion pictures, plays, ballets, and animated films.
At 14, he moved to Copenhagen to seek employment as an actor. Having an excellent soprano voice, he was accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre, but his voice soon changed. A colleague at the theatre told him that he considered Andersen a poet. Taking the suggestion seriously, he began to focus on writing.
It was during 1835 that Andersen published the first installment of his immortal Fairy Tales. More stories, completing the first volume, were published in 1836 and 1837. The quality of these stories was not immediately recognized, and they sold poorly. At the same time, Andersen enjoyed more success with two novels O.T. (1836) and Only a Fiddler.