Hans Christian Andersen (/ˈændərsən/; Danish: [hans kʁæsdjan ˈɑnɐsn̩] (listen); 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children: his stories express themes that transcend age and nationality.
Andersen's fairy tales, of which no fewer than 3381 works have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. His most famous fairy tales include "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Little Mermaid", "The Nightingale", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Match Girl" and "Thumbelina". His stories have inspired ballets, plays, and animated and live-action films. One of Copenhagen's widest and busiest boulevards is named "H.C. Andersens Boulevard".
Hans Christian Andersen
Photograph taken by Thora Hallager, 1869
|Born||2 April 1805|
Odense, Funen, Kingdom of Denmark–Norway
|Died||4 August 1875 (aged 70)|
Østerbro, Copenhagen, Kingdom of Denmark
|Resting place||Assistens Cemetery, Copenhagen|
|Period||Danish Golden Age|
|Genres||Children's literature, travelogue|
|Notable works||The Little Mermaid|
The Ugly Duckling
The Emperor's New Clothes
|Hans Christian Andersen Centre|
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark on 2 April 1805. He was an only child. Andersen's father, also Hans, considered himself related to nobility (his paternal grandmother had told his father that their family had belonged to a higher social class, but investigations have disproved these stories). A persistent speculation suggests that Andersen was an illegitimate son of King Christian VIII, but this notion has been challenged.
Andersen's father, who had received an elementary school education, introduced Andersen to literature, reading to him the Arabian Nights. Andersen's mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, was an illiterate washerwoman. Following her husband's death in 1816, she remarried in 1818. Andersen was sent to a local school for poor children where he received a basic education and had to support himself, working as an apprentice to a weaver and, later, to a tailor. At fourteen, he moved to Copenhagen to seek employment as an actor. Having an excellent soprano voice, he was accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre, but his voice soon changed. A colleague at the theatre told him that he considered Andersen a poet. Taking the suggestion seriously, Andersen began to focus on writing.
Jonas Collin, director of the Royal Danish Theatre, held great affection for Andersen and sent him to a grammar school in Slagelse, persuading King Frederick VI to pay part of the youth's education. Andersen had by then published his first story, "The Ghost at Palnatoke's Grave" (1822). Though not a stellar pupil, he also attended school at Elsinore until 1827.
He later said his years in school were the darkest and most bitter of his life. At one school, he lived at his schoolmaster's home, where he was abused, being told that it was "to improve his character". He later said the faculty had discouraged him from writing, driving him into a depression.
A very early fairy tale by Andersen, "The Tallow Candle" (Danish: Tællelyset), was discovered in a Danish archive in October 2012. The story, written in the 1820s, was about a candle that did not feel appreciated. It was written while Andersen was still in school and dedicated to a benefactor in whose family's possession it remained until it turned up among other family papers in a local archive.
In 1829, Andersen enjoyed considerable success with the short story "A Journey on Foot from Holmen's Canal to the East Point of Amager". Its protagonist meets characters ranging from Saint Peter to a talking cat. Andersen followed this success with a theatrical piece, Love on St. Nicholas Church Tower, and a short volume of poems. Although he made little progress writing and publishing immediately thereafter, in 1833 he received a small travel grant from the king, thus enabling him to set out on the first of many journeys through Europe. At Jura, near Le Locle, Switzerland, Andersen wrote the story "Agnete and the Merman". He spent an evening in the Italian seaside village of Sestri Levante the same year, inspiring the title of "The Bay of Fables". In October 1834, he arrived in Rome. Andersen's travels in Italy were to be reflected in his first novel, a fictionalized autobiography titled The Improvisatore (Improvisatoren), published in 1835 to instant acclaim.
Andersen's initial attempts at writing fairy tales were revisions of stories that he heard as a child. Initially his original fairy tales were not met with recognition, due partly to the difficulty of translating them. In 1835, Andersen published the first two installments of his Fairy Tales (Danish: Eventyr; lit. "fantastic tales"). More stories, completing the first volume, were published in 1837. The collection comprises nine tales, including "The Tinderbox", "The Princess and the Pea", "Thumbelina", "The Little Mermaid" and "The Emperor's New Clothes". The quality of these stories was not immediately recognized, and they sold poorly. At the same time, Andersen enjoyed more success with two novels, O.T. (1836) and Only a Fiddler (1837); the latter work was reviewed by a young Søren Kierkegaard. Much of his work was influenced by the Bible as when he was growing up Christianity was very important in the Danish culture.
After a visit to Sweden in 1837, Andersen became inspired by Scandinavism and committed himself to writing a poem that would convey the relatedness of Swedes, Danes and Norwegians. In July 1839, during a visit to the island of Funen, Andersen wrote the text of his poem Jeg er en Skandinav ("I am a Scandinavian") to capture "the beauty of the Nordic spirit, the way the three sister nations have gradually grown together" as part of a Scandinavian national anthem. Composer Otto Lindblad set the poem to music, and the composition was published in January 1840. Its popularity peaked in 1845, after which it was seldom sung.
Andersen returned to the fairy tale genre in 1838 with another collection, Fairy Tales Told for Children. New Collection. First Booklet (Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Ny Samling), which consists of "The Daisy", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", and "The Wild Swans". He went on to publish "New Fairy Tales (1844). First Volume. First Collection", which contained "The Nightingale" and "The Ugly Duckling". After that came "New Fairy Tales (1845). First Volume. Second Collection" in which was found "The Snow Queen". "The Little Match Girl" appeared in December 1845 in the "Dansk Folkekalender (1846)" and also in "New Fairy Tales (1848). Second Volume. Second Collection".
1845 saw a breakthrough for Andersen with the publication of four translations of his fairy tales. "The Little Mermaid" appeared in the periodical Bentley's Miscellany, followed by a second volume, Wonderful Stories for Children. Two other volumes enthusiastically received were A Danish Story Book and Danish Fairy Tales and Legends. A review that appeared in the London journal The Athenæum (February 1846) said of Wonderful Stories, "This is a book full of life and fancy; a book for grandfathers no less than grandchildren, not a word of which will be skipped by those who have it once in hand."
Andersen would continue to write fairy tales and published them in installments until 1872.
In 1851, he published to wide acclaim In Sweden, a volume of travel sketches. A keen traveller, Andersen published several other long travelogues: Shadow Pictures of a Journey to the Harz, Swiss Saxony, etc. etc. in the Summer of 1831, A Poet's Bazaar, In Spain and A Visit to Portugal in 1866. (The last describes his visit with his Portuguese friends Jorge and Jose O'Neill, who were his fellows in the mid-1820s while living in Copenhagen.) In his travelogues, Andersen took heed of some of the contemporary conventions about travel writing, but always developed the genre to suit his own purposes. Each of his travelogues combines documentary and descriptive accounts of the sights he saw with more philosophical passages on topics such as being an author, immortality, and the nature of fiction in the literary travel report. Some of the travelogues, such as In Sweden, even contain fairy-tales.
In the 1840s, Andersen's attention returned to the stage, but with little success. He had better fortune with the publication of the Picture-Book without Pictures (1840). A second series of fairy tales began in 1838 and a third in 1845. Andersen was now celebrated throughout Europe, although his native Denmark still showed some resistance to his pretensions.
In ‘Andersen as a Novelist’, Kierkegaard remarks that Andersen is characterized as , “...a possiblity of a personality, wrapped up in such a web of arbitrary moods and moving through an elegiac duo-decimal scale [i.e., a chromatic scale. Proceeding by semitones, and therefore including sharps as well as flats, such a scale is associated more with lament or elegy than is an ordinary diatonic scale] of almost echoless, dying tones just as easily roused as subdued, who, in order to become a personality, needs a strong life-development.”
In June 1847, Andersen paid his first visit to England and enjoyed a triumphal social success during the summer. The Countess of Blessington invited him to her parties where intellectual people could meet, and it was at one such party that he met Charles Dickens for the first time. They shook hands and walked to the veranda, about which Andersen wrote in his diary: "We had come to the veranda, I was so happy to see and speak to England's now living writer, whom I love the most."
The two authors respected each other's work and shared something important in common as writers: depictions of the poor and the underclass, who often had difficult lives affected both by the Industrial Revolution and by abject poverty. In the Victorian era there was a growing sympathy for children and an idealisation of the innocence of childhood.
Ten years later, Andersen visited England again, primarily to meet Dickens. He extended a brief visit to Dickens' home at Gads Hill Place into a five-week stay, to the distress of Dickens' family. After Andersen was told to leave, Dickens gradually stopped all correspondence between them, to the great disappointment and confusion of Andersen, who had quite enjoyed the visit and never understood why his letters went unanswered.
Andersen often fell in love with unattainable women, and many of his stories are interpreted as references. At one point, he wrote in his diary: "Almighty God, thee only have I; thou steerest my fate, I must give myself up to thee! Give me a livelihood! Give me a bride! My blood wants love, as my heart does!" A girl named Riborg Voigt was the unrequited love of Andersen's youth. A small pouch containing a long letter from Voigt was found on Andersen's chest when he died, several decades after he first fell in love with her, and after he presumably fell in love with others. Other disappointments in love included Sophie Ørsted, the daughter of the physicist Hans Christian Ørsted and Louise Collin, the youngest daughter of his benefactor Jonas Collin. One of his stories, "The Nightingale", was written as an expression of his passion for Jenny Lind and became the inspiration for her nickname, the "Swedish Nightingale". Andersen was often shy around women and had extreme difficulty in proposing to Lind. When Lind was boarding a train to go to an opera concert, Andersen gave Lind a letter of proposal. Her feelings towards him were not the same; she saw him as a brother, writing to him in 1844: "farewell ... God bless and protect my brother is the sincere wish of his affectionate sister, Jenny".
Andersen certainly experienced same-sex love as well: he wrote to Edvard Collin: "I languish for you as for a pretty Calabrian wench ... my sentiments for you are those of a woman. The femininity of my nature and our friendship must remain a mystery." Collin, who preferred women, wrote in his own memoir: "I found myself unable to respond to this love, and this caused the author much suffering." Likewise, the infatuations of the author for the Danish dancer Harald Scharff and Carl Alexander, the young hereditary duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, did not result in any relationships.
According to Anne Klara Bom and Anya Aarenstrup from the H. C. Andersen Centre of University of Southern Denmark, "To conclude, it is correct to point to the very ambivalent (and also very traumatic) elements in Andersen's emotional life concerning the sexual sphere, but it is decidedly just as wrong to describe him as homosexual and maintain that he had physical relationships with men. He did not. Indeed that would have been entirely contrary to his moral and religious ideas, aspects that are quite outside the field of vision of Wullschlager and her like." Many instead believe that rather than being heterosexual or homosexual, Andersen was bisexual, having romantic feelings for both sexes but most likely remaining celibate his whole life.
In the spring of 1872, Andersen fell out of his bed and was severely hurt; he never fully recovered from the resultant injuries. Soon afterward, he started to show signs of liver cancer.
He died on 4 August 1875, in a house called Rolighed (literally: calmness), near Copenhagen, the home of his close friends, the banker Moritz Melchior and his wife. Shortly before his death, Andersen had consulted a composer about the music for his funeral, saying: "Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps." His body was interred in the Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen, in the family plot of the Collins. However in 1914 the stone was moved to another cemetery (today known as "Frederiksbergs ældre kirkegaard"), where younger Collin family members were buried. For a period, his, Edvard Collin's and Henriette Collin's graves were unmarked. A second stone has been erected, marking H.C. Andersen's grave, now without any mention of the Collin couple, but all three still share the same plot.
At the time of his death, Andersen was internationally revered, and the Danish Government paid him an annual stipend as a "national treasure".
Andersen's stories laid the groundwork for other children's classics, such as The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame and Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) by A. A. Milne. The technique of making inanimate objects, such as toys, come to life ("Little Ida's Flowers") would later also be used by Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter.
It seems that she's a fairy
From Andersen's library,
And I took her for
Of a Ladies' Seminary!
In Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, the middle-aged Frederik contemplates reading erotic literature to his young, virginal bride in order to seduce her, but concludes: "Her taste is much blander / I'm sorry to say / But is Hans Christian Ander- / Sen ever risqué?"
Titles like "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Emperor's New Clothes" have become idiomatic in several languages.
Andersen's fairy tales include:
...The pangs of love ... is a self-consciously feminist reworking of Hans Christian Anderson's [sic] story of 'The Little Mermaid'...
Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.
David Almond FRSL (born 15 May 1951) is a British author who has written several novels for children and young adults from 1998, each one receiving critical acclaim.
He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the U.K., to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, "the world's most prestigious prize in children's literature".
For the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal in 2007, his debut novel Skellig (1998) was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.H.C. Andersen Marathon
The H. C. Andersen Marathon is a marathon in Odense, Denmark, which was established in 2000. From 2006 onwards, the event has included a half marathon for women, and from 2009 onwards a half marathon for men.Hans Christian Andersen (film)
Hans Christian Andersen is a 1952 Hollywood musical film directed by Charles Vidor, with lyrics and music by Frank Loesser. The story was by Myles Connolly, the screenplay was written by Moss Hart and Ben Hecht (uncredited), and Samuel Goldwyn Productions were the producers. It stars Danny Kaye.
The film was inspired by the life of 19th-century Danish poet and scholar Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote many world-famous fairy tales. But the story is romantic fiction, not a biography. The introduction describes it as "not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about this great spinner of fairy tales." Kaye, in the title role, portrays Andersen as a small-town cobbler with a childlike heart and a vivid imagination.
A large part of the narrative is told through song and ballet and includes many of the real Andersen's most famous stories, such as The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Little Mermaid. The film was an international success at the time of its release.Hans Christian Andersen Airport
Hans Christian Andersen Airport (Danish: Odense Lufthavn, also often referred to as Beldringe Lufthavn) (IATA: ODE, ICAO: EKOD) is a small airport serving the Danish city of Odense. It is located in the village of Beldringe, some 9 km north-northwest of the city.Hans Christian Andersen Award
Not to be confused with the Hans Christian Andersen Literature AwardThe Hans Christian Andersen Awards are two literary awards by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), recognising one living author and one living illustrator for their "lasting contribution to children's literature". The writing award was inaugurated in 1956, the illustration award in 1966. The former is sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for children's literature".
The awards are named after Hans Christian Andersen, the 19th-century Danish author of fairy tales, and each winner receives the Hans Christian Andersen Medaille, a gold medal with the bust of Andersen (see image). Medals are presented at the biennial IBBY Congress. The Patron of the Andersen Awards is Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and the awards are sponsored by Nami Island Inc.Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award
The Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award is a Danish literary award established in 2010. It is awarded bi-annually to a living author whose work resembles Hans Christian Andersen. It is one of the biggest literary prizes in the world with the winner receiving kr. 500,000 (£60,000, or approximately $90,000). The winner receives a bronze sculpture "The Ugly Duckling" by sculptor Stine Ring Hansen.
Paulo Coelho is listed for 2007 even though the award was not established until 2010. This is because in 2007 Coelho was presented with an honorary award by the city of Odense that was so well received the organizers of the ceremony decided to make it an annual affair and thus the idea for the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award was born, the first official award given in 2010 but Coelho's honorary award is also listed by the award organizers.Hans Christian Andersen Museum
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum is a museum dedicated to famous author Hans Christian Andersen in Odense, Denmark. It is located in the building which is thought his birthplace, a small yellow house on the corner of Hans Jensens Stræde and Bangs Boder in the old town. In 1908, the house was opened as the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. It documents his life from his childhood years as the son of a struggling shoemaker, to his schooling, career as an author, and later life, with artefacts providing an insight into his acquaintances and adventures. Andersen's childhood home is on Munkemøllestræde not far from the cathedral. He lived in the little half-timbered house from the age of two until he was 14. Opened as a museum in 1930, the house contains an exhibition of the cobbling tools used by his father and other items based on Andersen's own descriptions.Maria Gripe
Maria Gripe, born Maja Stina Walter (25 July 1923 – 5 April 2007), was a Swedish author of books for children and young adults, which were often written in magical and mystical tone. She has written almost forty books, with many of her characters presented in short series of three or four books (e.g. Hugo and Josephine books, the Shadow series, and the titles about Lotten). For her lasting contribution to children's literature, she received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Writing in 1974.Never Be Afraid
Never Be Afraid is a LP album by Bing Crosby made for children by Golden Records in 1957. It is a musical adaptation of The Emperor's New Clothes, the fairy story with a moral by Hans Christian Andersen. The music was by Lew Spence and the lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Keith.The album has never been issued on commercial CD. The song "Never Be Afraid" was issued as a single by Kapp Records (KAPP195) in October 1957.The Daydreamer (film)
The Daydreamer is a 1966 stop motion animated-live action musical fantasy film produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. Directed by Jules Bass, it was written by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Romeo Muller, based on the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. It features songs by Jules Bass and Maury Laws. The film's opening features the cast in puppet and live form plus caricatures of the cast by Al Hirschfeld.The Emperor's New Clothes
"The Emperor's New Clothes" (Danish: Kejserens nye klæder) is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new "clothes", no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" The tale has been translated into over 100 languages."The Emperor’s New Clothes" was first published with "The Little Mermaid" in Copenhagen, by C. A. Reitzel, on 7 April 1837, as the third and final installment of Andersen's Fairy Tales Told for Children. The tale has been adapted to various media, and the story's title, the phrase "The Emperor has no clothes", and variations thereof have been adopted for use in numerous other works and as an idiom.The Garden of Paradise
"The Garden of Paradise" (Danish: Paradisets Have) is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen first published by C. A. Reitzel in Copenhagen, Denmark on 19 October 1839 with "The Flying Trunk" and "The Storks" in the second booklet of Fairy Tales Told for Children. New Collection. King Max read and liked the tale. Andersen biographer Jackie Wullschlager considers the story and its two companion pieces in the booklet as "grim". "The Garden of Paradise" ends with Death approaching a young prince and warning him to expiate his sins for, one day, he will come for him and "clap him in the black coffin".The Little Mermaid
"The Little Mermaid" (Danish: Den lille havfrue) is a fairy tale written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen about a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul.
The tale was first published in 1837 and has been adapted to various media, including musical theatre, anime and a Disney animated film.The Princess and the Pea
"The Princess and the Pea" (Danish: "Prinsessen paa Ærten"; literal translation: "The Princess on the Pea") is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a young woman whose royal identity is established by a test of her sensitivity. The tale was first published with three others by Andersen in an inexpensive booklet on 8 May 1835 in Copenhagen by C. A. Reitzel.
Andersen had heard the story as a child, and it likely has its source in folk material, possibly originating from Sweden, as it is unknown in the Danish oral tradition. Neither "The Princess and the Pea" nor Andersen's other tales of 1835 were well received by Danish critics, who disliked their casual, chatty style and their lack of morals.In 1959 "The Princess and the Pea" was adapted to the musical stage in a production called Once Upon a Mattress starring Carol Burnett.The Two Baronesses
The Two Baronesses (De to Baronesser) is an 1848 novel by Hans Christian Andersen, translated into English by Charles Beckwith Lohmeyer. It was published first in translation for legal protection against piracy, which caused a misunderstanding that Andersen wrote it in English.The Ugly Duckling
"The Ugly Duckling" (Danish: Den grimme ælling) is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875). The story tells of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from the others around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all. The story is beloved around the world as a tale about personal transformation for the better. “The Ugly Duckling” was first published 11 November 1843, with three other tales by Andersen in Copenhagen, Denmark to great critical acclaim. The tale has been adapted to various media including opera, musical, and animated film. The tale is completely Andersen's invention and owes no debt to fairy tales or folklore.The Ugly Duckling (audiobook)
The Ugly Duckling is an audiobook of the classic fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. It is narrated by American singer-actress Cher, and was released in 1987 by Windham Hill Records.Tomi Ungerer
Jean-Thomas "Tomi" Ungerer (28 November 1931 – 8 February 2019) was a French artist and a writer. He published over 140 books ranging from children's books to adult works and from the fantastic to the autobiographical. He was known for sharp social satire and witty aphorisms. Ungerer is also famous as a cartoonist and designer of political posters and film posters. Ungerer received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1998 for his "lasting contribution" as a children's illustrator.