Hans Christian Andersen


Full name: Hans Christian Andersen

Born: April 2, 1805 (Odense, Denmark)

Died: August 4, 1875 (aged 70, Copenhagen, Denmark)


His life:

During his lifetime, Hans Christian Andersen was already famous for his fairy tales. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages. They have inspired movies, plays and ballets.

H.C. Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark.
His family was associated with Danish aristocracy. King Frederik VI took an interest in him as a youth and paid for part of his education. (speculation still persists today, that Andersen might have been an illegitimate son of the royal family)

Hans Christian had to support himself, working as a weaver's apprentice and for a tailor. Aged 14, he moved to Copenhagen to work as an actor. He was accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre for having an excellent soprano voice. But his voice changed.

He began focussing on writing after a collegue at the theater complimented him on his poetry. His early works consisted of short stories, a comedy, a collection of poems and a first novel.

In 1833 Hans Christian Andersen received a small traveling grant from the King. In his lifetime he set out on many journeys through Europe. He visited Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, France, England, Germany,...

In 1835, Andersen published the first selection of his "Fairy Tales" (Eventyr). During the 2 following years, more stories completed the first volume. The stories weren't an overnight success. Initially Andersen enjoyed much more success with his novels.

But the acclaim of his fairy tales grew steadily. A second volume was published in 1838 and a third in 1845.
By that time, Andersen was celebrated throughout Europe eventhough his native Denmark still showed some resistance.

At the time of his death, this resistance had vanished. Steps were taken to erect a large statue in his honor.
It was completed after his death and is prominently placed at the town hall square in Copenhagen.

The story goes that Hans Christian Andersen died from a fall from his bed. Although not entirely correct it does hold some truth. In the Spring of 1872, Andersen did fall out of bed and was severely injured. He didn't die but never fully recovered either. He died in 1875, of insidious causes, in the house of a close friend.

Famous fairy tales by Andersen are, among others:

  • Thumbelina

  • The Snow Queen

  • The Ugly Duckling

  • The Little Mermaid

  • The Emperor's New Clothes

  • The Princess and the Pea

  • The Little Match Girl