Hans Christian Andersen

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Andersen, Hans Christian,

1805–75, Danish poet, novelist, and writer of fairy tales. Born to an illiterate washerwoman and reared in poverty, he left Odense at 14 for Copenhagen, where he lived with a wealthy family. He failed as an actor, but his poetry won him generous patrons including King Frederick VI. In 1829 his fantasy A Journey on Foot from the Holmen Canal to the Eastern Point of Amager was published, followed by a volume of poetry in 1830. Granted a traveling pension by the king, Andersen wrote sketches of the European countries he visited. His first novel, Improvisatoren (1835), was well received by the critics, and his sentimental novels were for a time considered his forte. However, with his first book of fairy tales, Eventyr (1835), he found the medium of expression that was to immortalize his genius. He produced about one volume a year and was recognized as Denmark's greatest author, a storyteller without peer, and one of the giants of European literature. His tales are often tragic or gruesome in plot. His sense of fantasy, power of description, and acute sensitivity contributed to his mastery of the genre. Among his many beloved stories are "The Fir-Tree," "The Little Match Girl," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," and "The Red Shoes."


See his Fairy Tales, tr. by R. P. Keigwin (4 vol., 1956–60); The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, tr. by E. Hougaard (1983); M. Tator, ed., The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen (2007); his autobiography (1855, tr. 1871); A River—A Town—A Poet, autobiographical selections by A. Dreslov (1963); his diaries, tr. by S. Rossel and P. Conroy (1990); biographies by F. Böök (tr. 1962), R. Godden (1955), M. Stirling (1965), S. Toksvig (1934, repr. 1969), E. Bredsdorff (1975), J. Andersen (2005), and P. Binding (2014).

Andersen, Hans Christian


Born Apr. 2, 1805, in Odense; died Aug. 4, 1875, in Copenhagen. Danish writer, son of a shoemaker.

Andersen wrote plays even in childhood. His literary experiments attracted the attention of the management of a Copenhagen theater in 1819. He published a number of poems during 1826–27. Entering school, he wrote the book A Journey on Foot From the Holmen Canal to the Eastern Point of Amager (1829). The seeds of his future tales are evident in his works Shadow Pictures (1831) and Agnete and the Merman (1834). His novels The Improvisatore (1835; Russian translation, 1844) and Only a Fiddler (1837) reflect the conflict, typical for the romantics, between the poet-dreamer and the vulgarity and heartlessness of “high society.” Between 1835 and 1837, Andersen published three collections of Stories Told for Children, which included “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and others. His best stories included “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” (1838), “The Nightingale” (1843), “The Ugly Duckling” (1843), “The Snow Queen” (1844), “The Little Match Girl” (1845), “The Shadow” (1847), and “Mother” (1848). In A Picture Book Without Pictures (1840), Andersen revealed himself a master of the miniature short story. His play Mulatten (1840) was directed against racial inequality. His book of travel sketches A Poet’s Bazaar (1842) was the first version of his autobiography, The Story of My Life (1846; Russian translations, 1851 and 1889). In his novel Two Baronesses (vols. 1–3, 1849) Andersen gave a critical depiction of the country’s feudal past. But he gained, and was confirmed in, his place in the history of world literature as a master storyteller with a remarkable ability for combining romanticism and realism, fantasy and humor, and sometimes irony and satire. A brilliant example of this is the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which L. N. Tolstoy esteemed highly. Andersen used the weapon of laughter to strike at the world of egoism and self-interest, flattery, arrogance, and complacency.


Eventyr og historier, vols. 1–10. Copenhagen, 1955.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–4. St. Petersburg, 1894–95.
Skazki i istorii. Moscow, 1955.


Belinskii, V. G. “Improvizator . . . Roman datskogo pisatelia An-dersena . . .” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 8. Moscow, 1955.
Pogodin, A. S. Klassik datskoi literatury Kh. K. Andersen. Moscow, 1955.
Vazhdaev, V. G. Kh. Andersen: Ocherk zhizni i tvorchestva.
Moscow, 1957. Murav’eva, I. Andersen, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1961.
“Kh. K. Anderson.” Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow, 1961.
Woel, C. M. H, C. Andersens liv og digtning, vols. 1–2.
Copenhagen, 1949–50. H. Chr. Andersen: Sa vie et son oeuvre. Copenhagen, 1955.


References in periodicals archive ?
Throw into the mix a drama for babies from Sweden; high octane physical theatre about the experiences of being 11 from the Netherlands; an epic tale from South Africa about dislocation and a technically sophisticated installation piece that celebrates the stories of Hans Christian Anderson and you get the idea of what the ASSITEJ congress and festival is all about.
And in the Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Red Shoes, the young dancer has her feet cut off.
In my view, an inability to recognise that we have problems and fool ourselves into thinking that regeneration is moving forward at a rapid rate, would make the basis of a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale.
Well, one of its most famous sons is Hans Christian Anderson, so many of the buildings reflect that almost fairytale Northern European style - really beautiful.
Located on the mountainside of a UNESCO world heritage site with views of green valleys and ancient castles, we spent the first night at the beautiful Tivoli Palacio de Seteais hotel in Sintra - the old stomping ground town of Hans Christian Anderson.
Based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, the story takes us to the land of a very vain emperor whose main concern in life is to look his best.
After a lot of walking around it was good to sit down and read my Evening Chronicle under the towering figure of Hans Christian Anderson.
started off in the Nyhavn district, a former home of fairytale writer Hans Christian Anderson.
DENMARK is the home of Hans Christian Anderson - and the fairytale country wins Hans down when it comes to scenery.
New Millennium Entertainment brings its extensive award winning children's audio library, ranging from classics by Robert Lewis Stevenson, Mark Twain, and Hans Christian Anderson to contemporary authors like Mary Sheldon and Annie Reiner.
This name comes from a tale by Hans Christian Anderson.
Yet she persevered and later produced some designs for dessert plates and bowls inspired by the work of Hans Christian Anderson, and in particular Thumbelina.