These well-known folks made family history.
In the Bible there are several stories that relate the rivalry between brothers. Among them are the sagas of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and the irresponsible prodigal son and his dutiful, angry older brother. Each of these sibling sets have left us great lessons about the relevance of family bonds and the importance of not letting ourselves be carried away by jealousy, pride, or fraternal envy. Those of us who have siblings know that sibling rivalry is quite common, especially when we’re growing up.
But siblings can also become our role models and best friends, confidants and advisors, “accomplices” in the pursuit of good and partners and coworkers, as is the case of these sets of amazing siblings …
1. The Wright Brothers – and Sister!
Perhaps many already know that Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first successful flight of an airplane in 1903 in North Carolina (United States.) But few know that their younger sister Katharine played a very important role in the execution of their dreams. Not only did she exchange letters with them encouraging them when they thought they would not make it, but she also took care of their bicycle business in their home town of Dayton, Ohio, which provided them the financial means to create their airplane prototypes.
It was Katharine who advised Orville and Wilbur to conduct public flight demonstrations to promote themselves and to begin to publicly display and bear witness to what would become the legacy of their aviation adventures. Katharine even learned French in order to talk about the achievement of her brothers among the European aristocracy when a controversy arose regarding whether or not they had really been the first to accomplish this feat, given that, while awaiting the patents, they often undertook their flights privately, without witnesses, not following her earlier advice.
2. The Grimm Brothers
Even if you have never heard of them, you’ve probably read or seen adaptations of the stories they wrote, including Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. Jacob and Wilhelm lost their father at an early age, leaving his family in financial straits. Even so, these two brothers managed to go to university, where they worked in the library. There, they rubbed shoulders with different poets and historians who taught them popular poetry and how to research texts.
The Grimm’s Fairy Tales are without a doubt their most emblematic work and is the most translated German book in the world after Martin Luther’s Bible. Although many tales include a surprising amount of cruelty and violence, their stories are important because they became a way of preserving German folklore when Prussia was invaded by Napoleon. Many of their tales came from medieval Germanic times, relating human experiences that transcended cultural barriers and provided important moral lessons that were passed down for generations, first by word of mouth.
The brothers had begun working on a German dictionary, but only managed to finish a first volume before dying. However, several generations of academics resumed their work until it was completed in 1960, containing more than 30,000 pages. In addition to working together as a family, these two brothers actually lived together. Jacob lived with Wilhelm and his wife, who in turn named their first son Jacob.
3. The Marx Brothers
Although for many this surname is synonymous with an atheistic social philosophy and communism, there were, of course, other famous bearers of the Marx name. They were born in New York and became famous for their sense of humor and artistic talent. Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo started off by doing musical numbers, but they made their transition to comedy, for decades developing and performing great political and social satires, both in theaters and in films. Initially, only four of the five brothers were involved in the film projects, and eventually, only three (Groucho, Harpo, and Chico.) Five of their films are included on the list of the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Movies. Although each of these brothers developed his own individual career, they stayed together and made laughter more than a family business.
4. The Williams Sisters
When it comes to tennis, North American sisters Venus and Serena Williams have made history. It was their father who trained them from a very young age to become professional athletes. They have won championships as a tennis team, but they have also had to face each other in individual games as riveting rivals. They have said that although these are the most difficult games, these competitive matches are the ones that most challenge them to give their best performance. As a dynamic duo, they have won 22 titles together and each has relied on the other in difficult personal and professional moments.
5. The Scholl Siblings
While they were teenagers, Hans and Sophie joined the Hitler Youth, like so many other youngsters in their day. Soon, they realized the evils perpetrated by the Nazis. So, while they were studying at the University of Munich, they decided to discreetly gather all the students and professors who opposed Hitler. They created a peaceful resistance movement they called The White Rose.
From 1942 to 1943 they wrote, printed, and distributed a series of pamphlets inviting their fellow Germans to oppose the Führer, until one day someone denounced them to the Gestapo. They were arrested, and four days later they were sentenced to death. When they were taken to the guillotine, Hans was only 24 years old and Sophie 21. Today, there is a monument in their honor at the University of Munich that depicts and memorializes the brave brochures they authored and distributed.