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Hans Christian Andersen (, Danish: ['hæn?s 'kestjæn '?n?sn?] ; 2 April 1805 - 4 August 1875), in Denmark usually called H.C. Andersen, was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales.
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark on 2 April 1805. He was an only child. His father, also named 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.
Hans Christian Andersen was baptised April 15, 1805 in Saint Hans Church (St John's Church) in Odense, Denmark. His certificate of birth was not drafted until November 1823, according to which six Godparents were present at the baptising ceremony: Madam Sille Marie Breineberg, Maiden Friederiche Pommer, Shuemaker Peder Waltersdorff, journeyman carpenter Anders Jørgensen, Hospital portner Nicolas Gomard, and Royal Hatter Jens Henrichsen Dorch.
Andersen's father, who had received an elementary school education, introduced his son 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.
Andersen's childhood home in Odense
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, that his years at this school were the darkest and most bitter years of his life. At one particular school, he lived at his schoolmaster's home. There, he was abused and he was told, that it was done in order "to improve his character". He later said that the faculty had discouraged him from writing, which then resulted in 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 one of his benefactors. The story remained in that family's possession 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. He made little progress in writing and publishing immediately following the issue of these poems but he did receive a small travel grant from the king in 1833. This enabled him to set out on the first of many journeys throughout Europe. At Jura, near Le Locle, Switzerland, Andersen wrote the story "Agnete and the Merman". The same year he spent an evening in the Italian seaside village of Sestri Levante, the place which inspired the title of "The Bay of Fables". He arrived in Rome in October 1834. Andersen's travels in Italy were reflected in his first novel, a fictionalized autobiography titled The Improvisatore (Improvisatoren), published in 1835 to instant acclaim.
Fairy Tales Told for Children. First Collection. (Danish: Eventyr, fortalt for Børn. Første Samling.) is a collection of nine fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen. The tales were published in a series of three installments by C. A. Reitzel in Copenhagen, Denmark between May 1835 and April 1837, and represent Andersen's first venture into the fairy tale genre.
The first installment of sixty-one unbound pages was published 8 May 1835 and contained "The Tinderbox", "Little Claus and Big Claus", "The Princess and the Pea" and "Little Ida's Flowers". The first three tales were based on folktales Andersen had heard in his childhood while the last tale was completely Andersen's creation and created for Ida Thiele, the daughter of Andersen's early benefactor, the folklorist Just Mathias Thiele. Reitzel paid Andersen thirty rixdollars for the manuscript, and the booklet was priced at twenty-four shillings.
The second booklet was published on 16 December 1835 and contained "Thumbelina", "The Naughty Boy" and "The Traveling Companion". "Thumbelina" was completely Andersen's creation although inspired by "Tom Thumb" and other stories of miniature people. "The Naughty Boy" was based on a poem by Anacreon about Cupid, and "The Traveling Companion" was a ghost story Andersen had experimented with in the year 1830.
The third booklet contained "The Little Mermaid" and "The Emperor's New Clothes", and it was published on the 7 April 1837. "The Little Mermaid" was completely Andersen's creation though influenced by De la Motte Fouqué's "Undine" (1811) and the lore about mermaids. This tale established Andersen's international reputation. The only other tale in the third booklet was "The Emperor's New Clothes", which was based on a medieval Spanish story with Arab and Jewish sources. On the eve of the third installment's publication, Andersen revised the finish of his story, (the Emperor simply walks in procession) to its now-familiar finale of a child calling out, "The Emperor is not wearing any clothes!"
Danish reviews of the first two booklets appeared in 1836 and they were not enthusiastic. The critics disliked the chatty, informal style, and immorality that flew in the face of their expectations. Children's literature was meant to educate rather than to amuse. The critics discouraged Andersen from pursuing this type of style. Andersen believed, that he was working against the critics' preconceived notions about fairy tales and he temporarily returned to novel-writing. The critic's reaction was so severe that Andersen waited a full year before publishing his third installment.
The nine tales of the three booklets were combined and then published in one volume and sold at seventy-two shillings. A title page, a table of contents, and a preface by Andersen were published in this volume.
In 1851, he published In Sweden, a volume of travel sketches. The publication received wide acclaims. A keen traveler, 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 friends in the mid-1820s while he was living in Copenhagen.) In his travelogues, Andersen took heed of some of the contemporary conventions related to travel writing but he always developed the style to suit his own purpose. Each of his travelogues combines documentary and descriptive accounts of his experiences, adding additional philosophical passages on topics such as what it is to be an author, general immortality, and the nature of fiction in literary travel reports. Some of the travelogues, such as In Sweden, even contain fairy-tales.
In the 1840s, Andersen's attention again returned to the theatre stage, but with little success. He had better luck with the publication of the Picture-Book without Pictures (1840). A second series of fairy tales was started in 1838 and a third serie in 1845. Andersen was now celebrated throughout Europe although his native Denmark still showed some resistance to his pretensions.
Between 1845 and 1864, H. C. Andersen lived at Nyhavn 67, Copenhagen, where a memorial plaque is placed on a building.
In 'Andersen as a Novelist', Kierkegaard remarks that Andersen is characterized as, "...a possibility 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."
Meetings with Dickens
In June 1847, Andersen paid his first visit to England and he enjoyed a triumphal social success during this summer. The Countess of Blessington invited him to her parties where intellectual people would meet, and it was at one of such parties where he met Charles Dickens for the first time. They shook hands and walked to the veranda, which Andersen wrote about in his diary: "We were on the veranda, and I was so happy to see and speak to England's now-living writer whom I do love the most."
The two authors respected each other's work and as writers, they shared something important in common: 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 idealization of the innocence of childhood.
Ten years later, Andersen visited England again, primarily to meet Dickens. He extended the planned brief visit to Dickens' home at Gads Hill Place into a five-week stay, much to the distress of Dickens' family. After Andersen was told to leave, Dickens gradually stopped all correspondence between them, this to the great disappointment and confusion of Andersen, who had quite enjoyed the visit and could never understand 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 attraction 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."
In early 1872, at age 67, 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".
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum or H.C. Andersens Odense, is a set of museums/buildings dedicated to the famous author Hans Christian Andersen in Odense, Denmark, some of which, at various times in history, have functioned as the main Odense-based museum on the author.
The Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division was bequeathed an extensive collection of Andersen materials by the Danish-American actor Jean Hersholt. Of particular note is an original scrapbook Andersen prepared for the young Jonas Drewsen.
Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Caedmon Records TC-1109, 1959), read by Boris Karloff; Karloff also narrated Hans Christian Andersen: The Little Match Girl and Other Fairy Tales (Caedmon Records TC-1117, 1960)
Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales (Golden Records LP-74, 1962), read by Danny Kaye; re-issued on CD in 2008 as part of Danny Kaye Re-Tells Grimm's and Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales (Golden Records 826663-11082)
The Red Shoes (1948) British drama film written, directed, and produced by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger based on "The Red Shoes".
Hans Christian Andersen (1952), an American musical film starring Danny Kaye that, though inspired by Andersen's life and literary legacy, was meant to be neither historically nor biographically accurate; it begins by saying, "This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about this great spinner of fairy tales"
Carevo novo ruho (The emperor's new clothes), a 1961 Croatian film, directed by Ante Babaja.
Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale (2003), a British made-for-television film directed by Philip Saville, a fictionalised account of Andersen's early successes, with his fairy stories intertwined with events in his own life.
One segment in Fantasia 2000 is based on The Steadfast Tin Soldier, against Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2, Movement #1: "Allegro".
"The Real Princess", a short story by Susan Palwick (based on "The Princess and the Pea", published in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears)
"The Naked King" (" (Goliy Korol)" 1937), "The Shadow" ("? (Ten)" 1940), and "The Snow Queen" ("? (Sniezhenaya Koroleva)" 1948) by Eugene Schwartz, reworked and adapted to the contemporary reality plays by one of Russia's playwrights. Schwartz's versions of The Shadow and The Snow Queen were later made into movies (1971 and 1967, respectively).
"The Sea Hag", a short story by Melissa Lee Shaw (based on "The Little Mermaid", published in Silver Birch, Blood Moon)
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge, an award-winning novel that reworks "The Snow Queen"'s themes into epic science fiction
"The Steadfast Tin Soldier", a short story by Joan D. Vinge (published in Women of Wonder)
The Song is a Fairytale (Sangen er et Eventyr), a song cycle based on fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, composed by Frederik Magle
The Wild Swans (BBC Radio 4, 1980), an adaptation of Andersen's story by John Peacock directed by Jane Morgan, with Angela Pleasence.
The Snow Queen (BBC Radio 4, 1994), an adaptation of Andersen's story by Bertie Doherty, directed by Janet Whitaker and featuring Diana Rigg (in the title role) and Dirk Bogarde as the Narrator.
Hans Christian Andersen (BBC Radio 4, 2005), a two-part radio play by Hattie Naylor dramatizing Andersen's life.
The Beautiful Ugly (BBC Radio 4, 2012), a radio play by Lavinia Murray directed by Pauline Harris, imagining a day in the life of Andersen as a child, combining fact with fantasy.
The Red Shoes (BBC Radio 4, 2017), an adaptation of Andersen's story by Frances Byrnes and directed by Eoin O'Callaghan.
Dance 'Til You Bleed: The World According to Hans Christian Andersen (BBC Radio 3, 2019): a dramatization by Lucy Catherine of five Andersen stories directed by Gemma Jenkins. Each story was introduced by author Joanne Harris and starred Toby Jones as Andersen, who also acted as narrator.
Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre (1982-87), an live-action anthology series which originally aired on Showtime; stories by Andersen which were dramatized included "The Nightingale", "The Little Mermaid", "The Princess and the Pea", "Thumbelina", "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Snow Queen".
Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale (2003), a semi-biographical television miniseries that fictionalizes the young life of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and includes fairy tales as short interludes, intertwined into the events of the young author's life.
In the "Metal Fish" episode of the Disney TV seriesThe Little Mermaid, Andersen is a vital character whose inspiration for writing his tale is shown to have been granted by an encounter with the show's protagonists.
Andersen appears in the mobile game Fate/Grand Order as a Caster class servant. In the London chapter, set in 1888, he is summoned by the Demonic Fog surrounding London. He allies himself with the player in order to find more information about the Holy Grail War.
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.
^"International Children's Book Day". International Board on Books for Young People. Retrieved 2012. 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.