Hans Christian Andersen

(redirected from H.C. Andersen)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 2016, Louis Jensen finished a voluminous project in which he told 1001 small square stories inspired by One Thousand and One Nights using different folk tales and fairy tales by H.C. Andersen. Very often, magical elements and anthropomorphized creatures are included and many intertextual references are made to Romanticism; for instance, to hymns written by the Danish poet B.S.
At the beginning of this article, I emphasized the connection between H.C. Andersen and Louis Jensen, and, as I have shown in the analytical parts of the article, Jensen is clearly inspired by Andersen's fairy-tale motifs, characters and settings.
TRAVEL FACTS H.C. Andersen Hus, Bangs Boder 29, adults 60 DKK, (approximately 8 Danish Kroner to pounds 1) children 0-7 free.
(1a) Researchers have pointed out the dual address, double articulation or double narrative of the fairy tales of H.C. Andersen: he addresses the fairy tales to the children, but the adults are invited to listen to them too (1b).
As Jacob Boggild points out in his article "Lost in translation" the notion that H.C. Andersen first and foremost is a writer of children's literature results in a neglecting of his aesthetic style in English translation.
The starting point of this issue is H.C. Andersen's poetic style.
Anna Karlskov Skyggebjerg, associate professor at Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, is exploring the influence of H.C. Andersen on contemporary Danish children's literature, especially Louis Jensen whose inspiration from Andersen is very clear.
Even the Danish cultural icon "H.C. Andersen" (as Andersen is referred to in Denmark) is an author of an entirely different kind.
(1g) As regards this, see my article "Arabesque and Allegory in H.C. Andersen's 'The Snow Queen'" in Hansen, Per Krogh and Marianne Wolff Lundholt (eds.).
(79, my translation) Johan de Mylius is even blunter when he, in his article "Ordspil i H.C. Andersens eventyr" ["Puns in the fairy tales of H.C.