Hans Christian Andersen
Andersen in 1869
Andersen in 1869
Born(1805-04-02)2 April 1805
Odense, Funen, Denmark–Norway
Died4 August 1875(1875-08-04) (aged 70)
Østerbro, Copenhagen, Denmark
Resting placeAssistens Cemetery, Copenhagen (København)
OccupationWriter
PeriodDanish Golden Age
GenresChildren's literature, travelogue
Notable works"The Little Mermaid"
"The Ugly Duckling"
"The Snow Queen"
"The Emperor's New Clothes"
Signature
Website
Hans Christian Andersen Centre

Hans Christian Andersen (/ˈændərsən/ AN-dər-sən, Danish: [ˈhænˀs ˈkʰʁestjæn ˈɑnɐsn̩] ; 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his literary fairy tales.

Andersen's fairy tales, consisting of 156 stories across nine volumes,[1] have been translated into more than 125 languages.[2] They have become embedded in Western collective consciousness, accessible to children as well as presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers.[3] His most famous fairy tales include "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Little Mermaid", "The Nightingale", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "The Red Shoes", "The Princess and the Pea", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Match Girl", and "Thumbelina". His stories have inspired ballets, plays, and animated and live-action films.[4]

Early life

Andersen's childhood home in Odense

Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, on 2 April 1805. He had a stepsister named Karen.[5] 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,[6] but investigations have disproved these stories).[6][7] Although it has been challenged,[6] speculation suggests that Andersen was an illegitimate son of King Christian VIII. Danish historian Jens Jørgensen supported this idea in his book H.C. Andersen, en sand myte [a true myth].[8]

Andersen was baptised on 15 April 1805 in Saint Hans Church in Odense. According to his birth certificate, which was not drafted until November 1823, six godparents were present at the baptising ceremony: Madam Sille Marie Breineberg, Maiden Friederiche Pommer, shoemaker Peder Waltersdorff, journeyman carpenter Anders Jørgensen, hospital porter Nicolas Gomard, and royal hatter Jens Henrichsen Dorch.

Andersen's father, who had received an elementary school education, introduced his son to literature, reading him Arabian Nights.[9] Andersen's mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, was an illiterate washerwoman. Following her husband's death in 1816, she remarried in 1818.[9] 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 a good 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, and taking the suggestion seriously, Andersen began to focus on writing.

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 his education.[10] 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.[11]

He later said that his years at this school were the darkest and most bitter years of his life. At one school, he lived at his schoolmaster's home. There he was abused and was told that it was done in order "to improve his character." He later said that the faculty had discouraged him from writing, which resulted in a depression.[12]

Career

Early work

It doesn't matter about being born in a duckyard, as long as you are hatched from a swan's egg

"The Ugly Duckling"

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, is about a candle that does 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 was found among other family papers in a local archive.[13]

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 these poems, but 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, which inspired the title of "The Bay of Fables".[14] 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.[15][16]

Literary fairy tales

A paper chimney sweep cut by Andersen

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 between May 1835 and April 1837, and were 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 Andersen's creation for Ida Thiele, the daughter of Andersen's early benefactor, the folklorist Just Mathias Thiele. Reitzel paid Andersen thirty rigsdalers for the manuscript, and the booklet was priced at twenty-four shillings.[17][18]

The second booklet was published on 16 December 1835 and contained "Thumbelina", "The Naughty Boy", and "The Traveling Companion". "Thumbelina" was 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.[17]

Andersen in 1836

The third booklet contained "The Little Mermaid" and "The Emperor's New Clothes", and it was published on 7 April 1837. "The Little Mermaid" was influenced by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's "Undine" (1811) and legends about mermaids. This tale established Andersen's international reputation.[19] 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 origins. On the eve of the third installment's publication, Andersen revised the conclusion (in which the Emperor simply walks in procession) to its now-famous finale of a child calling out, "The Emperor is not wearing any clothes!"[20]

Danish reviews of the first two booklets first appeared in 1836 and were not enthusiastic. The critics disliked the chatty, informal style and apparent immorality, since 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, waiting a full year before publishing his third installment.[21]

The nine tales from the three booklets were published in one volume and sold for seventy-two shillings. A title page, a table of contents, and a preface by Andersen were published in this volume.[22]

In 1868 Horace Scudder, the editor of Riverside Magazine For Young People, offered Andersen $500 for twelve new stories. Sixteen of Andersen's stories were published in the magazine, and ten of them appeared there before they were printed in Denmark.[23]

Travelogues

Portrait of Andersen by Franz Hanfstaengl, dated July 1860

In 1851, he published In Sweden, a volume of travel sketches. The publication received wide acclaim. 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 one describes his visit with his Portuguese friends Jorge and José O'Neill, who he knew in the mid-1820s while he was living in Copenhagen.) In his travelogues, Andersen used contemporary conventions related to travel writing but developed the style to make it his own. Each of his travelogues combines documentary and descriptive accounts of his experiences, adding additional philosophical passages on topics such as authorship, immortality, and fiction in literary travel reports. Some of the travelogues, such as In Sweden, contain fairy tales.

In the 1840s, Andersen's attention returned to the theatre stage, but with little success. He had better luck with the publication of the Picture-Book without Pictures (1840). He started a second series of fairy tales in 1838 and a third series in 1845. At this point Andersen was celebrated throughout Europe, although his native Denmark still showed some resistance to his pretensions.

Between 1845 and 1864, Andersen lived at Nyhavn 67, Copenhagen, where a memorial plaque is now placed.[24]

Patrons of Andersen's writings included the monarchy of Denmark, the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. An unexpected invitation from King Christian IX to the royal palace entrenched Andersen's folklore in Danish royalty as well as making its way to the Romanov dynasty when Christian IX's daughter Maria Feodorovna married Alexander III of Russia.[25]

Personal life

Søren Kierkegaard

In "Andersen as a Novelist", Søren 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 scaled of almost echoless, dying tones just as easily roused as subdued, who, in order to become a personality, needs a strong life-development."[26]

Andersen statue at the Rosenborg Castle Gardens, Copenhagen

Meetings with Charles Dickens

In June 1847, Andersen visited England for the first time, enjoying triumphant social success. The Countess of Blessington invited him to her parties where many intellectuals would meet, and at one such party he met Charles Dickens for the first time. They shook hands and walked to the veranda, which Andersen noted 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."[27]

The two authors respected each other's work and as writers, and had in common their depictions of the underclass who often had difficult lives affected both by the Industrial Revolution and by abject poverty.

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, to Andersen's great disappointment and confusion; he had enjoyed the visit and never understood why his letters went unanswered.[27]

It is suspected that Dickens modeled the physical appearance and mannerisms of Uriah Heep from David Copperfield after Andersen.[28]

Romantic relationships

In Andersen's early life, his private journal records his refusal to have sexual relations.[29][30]

Andersen experienced homosexual attraction;[31] he wrote to Edvard Collin:[32] "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."[33] Collin wrote in his own memoir, "I found myself unable to respond to this love, and this caused the author much suffering." Andersen's infatuation with Karl Alexander, the young hereditary duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach,[34] did result in a relationship:

The Hereditary Grand Duke walked arm in arm with me across the courtyard of the castle to my room, kissed me lovingly, asked me always to love him though he was just an ordinary person, asked me to stay with him this winter ... Fell asleep with the melancholy, happy feeling that I was the guest of this strange prince at his castle and loved by him ... It is like a fairy tale.[31]

There is a sharp division in opinion over Andersen's physical fulfillment in the sexual sphere. Jackie Wullschlager's biography maintains he was possibly lovers with Danish dancer Harald Scharff [da][35] and Andersen's "The Snowman" was inspired by their relationship.[36] Scharff first met Andersen when the latter was in his fifties. Andersen was infatuated and Wullschlager sees his journals as implying that their relationship was sexual.[37] Scharff had various dinners alone with Andersen and gifted a silver toothbrush to Andersen on his fifty-seventh birthday.[38] Wullschlager asserts that in the winter of 1861–62, the two men entered an affair that brought Andersen "joy, some kind of sexual fulfillment, and a temporary end to loneliness."[39] He was not discreet in his conduct with Scharff, and displayed his feelings openly. Onlookers regarded the relationship as improper and ridiculous. In his diary in March 1862, Andersen referred to this time in his life as his "erotic period".[40] On 13 November 1863, Andersen wrote, "Scharff has not visited me in eight days; with him it is over."[41] Andersen took this calmly and the two thereafter met in overlapping social circles without bitterness, though Andersen attempted to rekindle their relationship a number of times without success.[42][note 1][note 2][43] According to Wullschlager, "Andersen's diaries leave no doubt that he was attracted to both sexes; that at times he longed for a physical relationship with a woman and that at other times he was involved in physical liaisons with men."[3] For example, Wullschlager quotes from Andersen's diaries:

"Scharff bounded up to me; threw himself round my neck and kissed me! .... Nervous in the evening" Five days later he received "a visit from Scharff, who was very intimate and nice". In the following weeks, there was "dinner at Scharff's, who was ardent and loving" [3]

The claim that Andersen entertained "physical liaisons" with men has been contested by Klara Bom and Anya Aarenstrup from the H. C. Andersen Centre of University of Southern Denmark. They state

"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."[44]

Wullschlager in fact argued that, because of moral and religious ideas of his time, Andersen could not be open about his homosexual relationships.

Andersen also fell in love with unattainable women, and many interpret references to them in his stories.[45] 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!"[46] 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. Other disappointments in love included Sophie Ørsted,[citation needed] the daughter of the physicist Hans Christian Ørsted; and Louise Collin,[citation needed] 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 was the inspiration for her nickname, the "Swedish Nightingale".[47] Andersen was shy around women and had extreme difficulty 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".[48] It is suggested that Andersen expressed his disappointment by portraying Lind as the eponymous antihero of The Snow Queen.[49]

Death

Andersen at Rolighed: Israel Melchior (c. 1867)

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.[50]

He died on 4 August 1875, in a country house called Rolighed (literally: calmness) near Copenhagen, the home of his close friends, the banker Moritz G. Melchior and his wife.[50] Shortly before his death, Andersen 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."[50]

His body was interred in the Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen, in the Collin family plot. In 1914, the headstone 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 Andersen's grave, now without any mention of the Collin couple, but all three still share the same plot.[51]

At the time of his death, Andersen was internationally revered, and the Danish government paid him an annual stipend for being a "national treasure".[52]

Legacy

Archives, collections and museums

Arts and entertainment

Postage stamps, Kazakhstan, 2005

Film and television

Literature

Andersen's stories laid the groundwork for other children's classics, such as The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame and Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) by A. A. Milne. The trope of inanimate objects, such as toys, coming to life (as in "Little Ida's Flowers") would later also be used by Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter.[63][64]

Music

Stage productions

For opera and ballet see List of The Little Mermaid Adaptations

Awards

Events and holidays

Andersen's refreshed gravestone at Assistens Cemetery in the Nørrebro district, Copenhagen

Monuments and sculptures

Places named after Andersen

Theme parks

Works

Further information: Hans Christian Andersen bibliography

Andersen's fairy tales include:

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense has a large digital collection of Hans Christian Andersen papercuts,[81] drawings,[82] and portraits.[83]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ While on holiday, for example, Andersen and Scharff were forced to spend the night in Helsingør. Andersen reserved a double room for them both but Scharff insisted upon having his own.
  2. ^ Andersen continued to follow Scharff's career with interest, but in 1871, an injury during rehearsal forced Scharff permanently from the ballet stage. Scharff tried acting without success, married a ballerina in 1874, and died in the St. Hans asylum in 1912.

Citations

  1. ^ "Fairy tales". H.C. Andersen Centret.
  2. ^ Wenande, Christian (13 December 2012). "Unknown Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale discovered". The Copenhagen Post. Archived from the original on 14 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Wullschläger 2000, p. 388
  4. ^ a b Bredsdorff 1975
  5. ^ "Life". SDU Hans Christian Andersen Centret. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Rossel 1996, p. 6
  7. ^ Askgaard, Ejnar Stig. "The Lineage of Hans Christian Andersen". Odense City Museums. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012.
  8. ^ Jørgensen 1987
  9. ^ a b Rossel 1996, p. 7
  10. ^ "Hans Christian Andersen - Childhood and Education". Danishnet.com. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  11. ^ "H.C. Andersens skolegang i Helsingør Latinskole". H.C. Andersen Information (in Danish). Retrieved 2 April 2010.
  12. ^ Wullschläger 2000, p. 56.
  13. ^ Stockmann, Camilla (12 December 2012). "Local historian finds Hans Christian Andersen's first fairy tale". Politiken.dk. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  14. ^ "Premio e Festival Andersen di Sestri Levante". Andersen Premio e Festival (in Italian). Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  15. ^ Murray, Christopher John (13 May 2013). Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760–1850. Routledge. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-135-45579-8.
  16. ^ Sjåvik, Jan (19 April 2006). Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8108-6501-3.
  17. ^ a b Wullschläger 2000, p. 150
  18. ^ Frank & Frank 2004, p. 13
  19. ^ Wullschläger 2000, p. 174
  20. ^ Wullschläger 2000, p. 176
  21. ^ Wullschläger 2000, pp. 150, 165
  22. ^ Wullschläger 2000, p. 178
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  42. ^ Wullschläger 2000, pp. 392–393
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General bibliography