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One of the great untold love stories - how the Grimm brothers discovered their famous fairy tales - filled with drama and passion, and taking place during the Napoleonic Wars.

One of the great untold love stories - how the Grimm brothers discovered their famous fairy tales - filled with drama and passion, and taking place during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Wild Girl tells the story of Dortchen Wild. Growing up next door to the Grimm brothers in Hesse-Cassel, a small German kingdom, Dortchen told Wilhelm some of the most powerful and compelling stories in the famous fairytale collection.

Dortchen first met the Grimm brothers in 1805, when she was twelve. One of six sisters, Dortchen lived in the medieval quarter of Cassel, a town famous for its grand royal palace, its colossal statue of Herkules, and a fairytale castle of turrets and spires built as a love nest for the Prince-Elector’s mistress. Dortchen was the same age as Lotte Grimm, the only girl in the Grimm family, and the two became best friends.

In 1806, Hesse-Cassel was invaded by the French. Napoleon created a new Kingdom of Westphalia, under the rule of his dissolute young brother Jérôme. The Grimm brothers began collecting fairytales that year, wanting to save the old stories told in spinning-circles and by the fire from the domination of French culture. Dortchen was the source of many of the tales in the Grimm brother’s first collection of fairy tales, which was published in 1812, the year of Napoleon’s disastrous march on Russia.

Dortchen’s own father was cruel and autocratic, and he beat and abused her. He frowned on the friendship between his daughters and the poverty-stricken Grimm Brothers. Dortchen had to meet Wilhelm in secret to tell him her stories. All the other sisters married and moved away, but Dortchen had to stay home and care for her sick parents. Even after the death of her father, Dortchen and Wilhelm could not marry – the Grimm brothers were so poor they were surviving on a single meal a day.

After the overthrow of Napoleon and the eventual success of the fairytale collection, Dortchen and Wilhelm were at last able to marry. They lived happily ever after with Wilhelm’s elder brother Jakob for the rest of their lives.

Reviews

This book captivated me from the very first scene. An historical novel with a lot of heart which will appeal to lovers of Austen and the Brontes as well as those in love with Kate Morton and Philippa Gregory.

John Purcell, Booktopia

I found this novel very moving and I respect the writer’s personal generosity in going to such sad and emotionally painful places in order to write Dortchen’s life. Like a fairytale, The Wild Girl gives us an explosive and evocative set of truths set within a deceptively simple and delicately written story.

Folly Gleeson, Newtown Review of Books

It is a deeply moving, personal story juxtaposed with an important period in human history about an event that is still culturally significant today. Lovers of historical novels, lovers of fairy tales and fantasy and lovers of great writing will be united by this accomplished, articulate novel.

Meredith Jaffe, Hoopla

All you need to know this week from our children's and young adult book expert Sarah Mayor Cox, is that Kate Forsyth's fabulous book The Wild Girl about Dortchen Wild, who was married to Wilhelm Grimm and who told him over a quarter of the 'Grimm Brothers' tales, is the best book she's read in a long time! It's a love story, historical fiction, narrative moon-fiction, and has themes of injustice, feminism, war, incest, and poverty. Sarah just loved it. It's being billed as a book for adults, but YA's will love it too, as will most people who love a good folk or fairy tale.

Mornings with Fiona Parker, 774ABC Melbourne

In this beautifully written, and yes romantic story, Forsyth has done lovers of fairytales a great service, giving us the ultimate homage.

Chris Gordon, Readings

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781741668490

    March 18, 2013

    Vintage Australia

    560 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Paperback

    9781741668506

    March 3, 2014

    Vintage Australia

    560 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742758060

    March 18, 2013

    Random House Australia

    560 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
Article
The Origins of Grimm

Kate Forsyth lifts the lid on the origins of your favourite fairy tales.