Hans Christian Andersen, or simply H. C. Andersen; (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author and poet, most famous for his fairy tales. Among his best-known stories are The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Little Match Girl, The Ugly Duckling and The Red Shoes. During Andersen's lifetime he was feted by royalty and acclaimed for having brought joy to children across Europe. His fairy tales have been translated into over 150 languages and continue to be published in millions of copies all over the world and inspired many other works.
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense , Denmark, on Tuesday, April 2, 1805. Most English (as well as German and French) sources use the name "Hans Christian Andersen", but in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia he is usually referred to as merely "H. C. Andersen". His name "Hans Christian" is a traditional Danish name and is used as a single name, though originally a combination of two individual names. It is incorrect to use only one of the two parts without the other. It is an accepted custom in Denmark to use only the initials in this and a few other names.
Andersen's father apparently believed that he might be related to nobility, and according to scholars at the Hans Christian Andersen Center, his paternal grandmother told him that the family had once been in a higher social class. However, investigation proves these stories were unfounded. The family apparently did have some connections to Danish royalty, but these were only work-related. Nevertheless, the theory that Andersen was the illegitimate son of royalty continues to persist in Denmark, bolstered by the fact that the Danish king at the time took a personal interest in Andersen as a youth and paid for his education. The writer Rolf Dorset insists that not all options have been explored in determining Andersen's ancestry.
Andersen displayed great intelligence and imagination as a young boy, traits that were fostered by the indulgence of his parents and by the superstition of his mother. He made himself a small toy-theatre and sat at home making clothes for his puppets, and reading all the plays that he could lay his hands upon; among them were those of Ludvig Holberg and William Shakespeare. Throughout his childhood, he had a passionate love for literature. He was known to memorize entire plays by Shakespeare and to recite them using his wooden dolls as actors.
In 1816, his father died in a fire and, in order to support himself, Andersen worked as an apprentice for both a weaver and a tailor. He later worked in a cigarette factory where his fellow workers humiliated him by betting on whether he was in fact a girl, pulling down his trousers to check. At the age of fourteen, Andersen moved to Copenhagen seeking employment as an actor in the theatre. He had a pleasant soprano voice and succeeded in being admitted to the Royal Danish Theatre. This career stopped short when his voice broke. A colleague at the theatre had referred to him as a poet, and Andersen took this very seriously and began to focus on writing. He had a half-sister to whom only spoke to once or twice before she died. Her name was Karen Marie.
Following an accidental meeting, Jonas Collin started taking an interest in the odd boy and sent Andersen to the grammar school in Slagelse, paying all his expenses. Before being admitted to grammar-school, Andersen had succeeded in publishing his first story, The Ghost at Palnatoke's Grave in 1822. Though an unwilling pupil, Andersen studied both in Slagelse and at a school in Elsinore until 1827. He later stated that these years had been the darkest and most bitter parts of his life. He had experienced living in his schoolmaster's own home, being abused in order to "build his character", and he had been alienated from his fellow students, being much older than most of them, homely and unattractive. Furthermore, he was dyslexic, a very likely reason for his learning difficulties and he later said that the school faculty forbade or discouraged him to write.
In 1829, Andersen enjoyed a considerable success with a short story entitled "A Journey on Foot from Holmen's Canal to the East Point of Amager". During the same season, he published both a farce and a collection of poems. He had little further progress, however, until 1833 when he received a small traveling grant from the King, making the first of his long European journeys. At Le Locle, in the Jura, he wrote "Agnete and the Merman"; in 1833 he visited the Italian seaside village of Sestri Levante (and is credited with naming its two bays) (see www.voyagefever.com/sestri-levante-part-1 -- annual festival celebrates this); and in October 1834 he arrived in Rome. Andersen's first novel, The Improvisatore, was published in the beginning of 1835, and became an instant success. During these years, H.C. Andersen resided in 20, Nyhavn, Copenhagen, where a memorial plaque unveiled on the 8th of May in 1935 as a gift from Peter Schannong was placed.
It was during 1835 that Andersen published the first installment of his immortal Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen|Fairy Tales (Danish: Eventyr). More stories, completing the first volume, were published in 1836 and 1837. The quality of these stories was not immediately recognised, and they sold poorly. At the same time, Andersen enjoyed more success with two novels: O.T. (1836) and Only a Fiddler. His Specialty book that is still known today was the Ugly Duckling. (1837).
In the spring of 1872, Andersen fell out of bed and was severely hurt. He never quite recovered, but he lived until August 4 1875, dying painfully in a house called Rolighed (literally: calmness), near Copenhagen, the home of his close friends Moritz Melchior, a banker and his wife. Shortly before his death, he 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. At the time of his death, he was an internationally renowned and treasured artist. He received a stipend from the Danish Government as a "national treasure". Before his death, steps were already underway to erect the large statue in his honour, which was completed and is prominently placed at the town hall square in Copenhagen.
CitationsContent provided by Wikipedia.org
© 2009 Fables-and-Fairy-Tales.com