When the Grimm brothers first published their Children's and Household Tales in 1812, in a scholarly effort to collate a national identity of the people, it was the beginning of an obsessive project of two intricately interwoven lifetimes.
To mark the bicentenary of the first edition, writer and mythographer Marina Warner explores the many compelling and often controversial aspects of the tales in a 10-part series, revealing new insights into the stories we think we know so well, and introducing us to the charms and challenges of those that we don't.
Alongside beautifully narrated extracts from the tales themselves, renowned academics and artists who work closely with the Grimm's rich heritage add to our understanding of these deceptively complex stories.
In the ninth episode, we break the silence on the tales' history of censorship. Throughout their lifetime the collection's innocent veneer has had its blood, violence, and sexual overtones softened or removed altogether by successive editors, each reacting to the particular sensitivities of the day, and even to the Grimms themselves.
Even so the stories have found as many champions as censors, most notably J.R.R. Tolkien in his defence of The Juniper Tree's brutal depiction of murder. Why is it that although the details that prove controversial have changed over time - each one a telling insight into the temperament of a society - the tales' fundamental power to shock remains unchanged?
Producer: Kevin Dawson
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.