His life and his work is closely linked with that of his elder brother Jacob one years, after which the oft-used term indicating the Brothers Grimm.
Wilhelm Grimm spent his youth in Steinau, where the father Philipp Wilhelm Grimm had been displaced in 1791 as a bailiff. He then visited his brother Jacob the Friedrich Gymnasium in Kassel and wrote likewise at the University of Marburg, where he studied with Friedrich Carl von Savigny Jura. After graduating, he lived again with the mother in Kassel. Asthmatic symptoms and heart disease prevented him from a long time because to apply for a permanent position. Since 1806 he gathered together with his brother Jacob fairy tale which issued it and later edited. He was supported inter alia by Werner von Haxthausen and August of Haxthausen. In 1809 he underwent at the famed physician Johann Christian Reil a cure in Halle / Saale. On this occasion he was hospitably received by the composer Johann Friedrich Reichardt. With Clemens Brentano, he then traveled to Berlin; there he lived with this and Achim von Arnim in his apartment. On the return trip to Kassel he met Goethe, who praised commented on his " efforts in favor of a long-forgotten culture." In 1813 he met with the family Haxthausen the sisters Jenny von Droste- Hulshoff and Annette von Droste- Hulshoff, the poet know. Both helped with the collection of fairy tales and folk songs. With Jenny joined him after a long Penpal, also there are indications that an unfulfilled love affair between them was.
From 1814 to 1829 Grimm was hired as a secretary at the library in Kassel; In 1825 he married Henrietta Dorothea Wild. 1828 came his son Herman Grimm to the world, which was relatively well known later for his art history lectures using light image projection at the University of Berlin.
In 1831, Wilhelm Grimm librarian at the University of Göttingen in 1835, where he received an associate professorship. As co-signatories of the protest of the " Göttingen Seven", he was - like his brother - 1837 deprived of his office by the King of Hanover and expelled from the country. The Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV invited both to Berlin in 1841, where they settled. In the same year she became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Wilhelm Grimm taught until his death 18 years at the University of Berlin, where he worked with his brother at their German dictionary, over which he had spoken on the Germanistentag 1846 in Frankfurt.
In addition to the joint work with his brother Wilhelm Grimm concentrated his research on the poetry of the Middle Ages, the German heroic legends and runes research. Together with his brother he founded the Germanic classical studies, Germanic linguistics and German philology.
Both became famous through their collection Children 's and Household Tales ( 2 volumes, 1812-1815 ), at the processing Wilhelm had special share, and work on the German dictionary ( 1838, Volume 1 1854). In 1839 he published the works of his friend Achim von Arnim. Wilhelm Grimm also released Altdänische heroic songs, ballads and fairy tales.
The Berlin Academy wrote in January 1860:
" On the 16th of last month died Wilhelm Grimm, member of the Academy, as the German philologist and collector of German legend and poetry has a name bright sound. The German people are accustomed to thinking him with his older brother Jacob Grimm together and call. Few men includes it with such a general love and reverence as the Brothers Grimm, it has known for half a century in a quest and in joint work. "
He was on the old St. Matthew's Cemetery in Berlin -Schöneberg buried ( grave of honor today the city of Berlin ). The tomb is located in the F, FS-001/004, G1 field.
A part of the estate of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, including letters from and to the brothers, different bundles of manuscript, and especially personal copies with handwritten additions, to be kept in the Hessian State Archive Marburg. The collection is fully indexed and searchable online HADIS.