Hans Christian Andersen 4.2.13 Thought of the Day


“Where words fail, music speaks.” — Hans Christian Andersen

Painting of Andersen, 1836, by Christian Albre...
Painting of Andersen, 1836, by Christian Albrecht Jensen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hans Christian Andersen was born on this day in Odense, Denmark in 1805. This is the 208th anniversary of his birth.

Andersen was the only son of Anna Maria and Hans Andersen. She was a washerwoman and he was a shoemaker. The family was very poor, and Hans senior made all his son’s toys. He inspired Hans’ love of reading (he read to the boy from 1,001 Arabian Nights) and theater (by taking him to the local playhouse.)

The house he grew up in was shared by 11 other people, (his mother and a father and 2 other families were all crowded into the little house.) “since he was unable to have any real physical privacy … he was forced to escape into the privacy of his mind.” [DanishNet.com] “Young Hans grew to be tall and lanky, awkward and effeminate, but he loved to sing and dance, and he had a vivid imagination that would soon find its voice.” [Online-Literature.com] Hans was educated in the basics, and trained as both a weaver’s and tailor’s apprentice. But what he really wanted to do was act.

After his father’s death he moved to Copenhagen where he worked as a boy soprano in a choir. But when his voice changed, so did his job. He left the choir to try his luck as a ballet dancer, but that didn’t work out either. At 17  he met Jonas Collin, the Director of Royal Danish Theatre. Collins became his patron and sent the boy to school.

Hans Christian did not excel as a student, he was alienated by his fellow students, and he was continually mocked by his teachers for his ambition to become a writer. Andersen has described his time in school as the bitterest time of his life. Today it is believed that he suffered from dyslexia …. [DanishNet.com]

Collins pulled Andersen from school in 1827 and had him privately tutored. Hans began to write again. He had success in 1829 with A Journey on Foot from Homen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager and his play Love on St. Nicholas Church Tower and then again in 1835, with his first novel, The Improvisatore.

He went on to write plays, poems, prose, travelogues,  and, of course, fairy tales.

In the poet’s lifetime 156 “fairy tales and stories” were published. But if other texts of his in the nature of fairy tales and those which were printed only after his death are included, it makes a total of 212….he had the special knack of turning ideas into tales – in a particularly Nordic, melancholy and, at the same time, witty way. His fairy tales are philosophical, told with amazing narrative joy and sparkling imagination in beautiful, elegant language. [Odense.dk]

He is probably the most read author in the World today, his stories have been translated into hundreds of languages and have an international appeal. Some of his best known fairy tales include:

HCA statue in New York City's Central Park
HCA statue in New York City’s Central Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • The Princess and the Pea
  • Thumbellina
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Emperor’s New Suit
  • The Brave Tin Soldier
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • The Snow Queen
  • The Red Shoes
  • The Little Match Seller

Click here to read The Beetle Who Went on His Travels and The Conceited Apple Branch

Want to read some of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales? Click Here for a link to a free Kindle book.

Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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