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The famous fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm are known to millions of people around the world, and stories such as Snow White, Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin are deeply embedded in the collective psyche. In this charming book, writer and scholar Valerie Paradiz reveals the astonishing true story of how the fairy tales came to be. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, collectors and editors of more than 200 folk stories, were major German intellects of the nineteenth century, contemporaries of Goethe and Stiller. But as Paradiz reveals here, the romantic image of the two brothers traveling the countryside, transcribing tales told to them by peasants, is a far cry from the truth. In fact, more than half the fairy tales the Grimm brothers collected were actually contributed by their educated female friends from the bourgeois and aristocratic classes. While German folkloric scholars - all of them male - fancied themselves the keepers of the cultural flame, it was a handful of women who ensured that millions would know the stories of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella by heart. Set against the chaos of the Napoleonic wars and the years of high-German romanticism, Clever Maids chronicles one of the most fascinating literary collaborations in European history and brilliantly captures the intellectual spirit of the men and women of the age. Even more, it illuminates the ways in which the Grimm tales, with their mythic portrayals of courage, sacrifice and betrayal, still speak so powerfully to us today.