The first volume of the first edition was published in 1812, containing 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1815. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totalling 170 tales. The third edition appeared in 1837; fourth edition, 1840; fifth edition, 1843; sixth edition, 1850; seventh edition, 1857. Stories were added, and also subtracted, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 211 tales. All editions were extensively illustrated, first by Philipp Grot Johann and, after his death in 1892, by German illustrator Robert Leinweber.
The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called "Children's Tales", they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter. Many changes through the editions – such as turning the wicked mother of the first edition in Snow White and Hansel and Gretel (shown in original Grimm stories as Hänsel and Grethel) to a stepmother, were probably made with an eye to such suitability. They removed sexual references—such as Rapunzel's innocently asking why her dress was getting tight around her belly, and thus naively revealing to her stepmother her pregnancy and the prince's visits—but, in many respects, violence, particularly when punishing villains, was increased.
In 1825, the Brothers published their Kleine Ausgabe or "small edition", a selection of 50 tales designed for child readers. This children's version went through ten editions between 1825 and 1858.