Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hans Christian Andersen Biography

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

v     Born in Odense, Denmark.

v     He wrote novels, plays, and poetry, but is best remembered for his fairy tales.

v     His mother claimed he was descended from nobility, but there wasn’t any proof. Regardless, Danish King Frederick VI took a personal interest in him as a youth and paid for a part of his education.

Andersen's childhood home
v     His father died when he was 11.

v     His mother, a lawyer, remarried two years later.

v     From 11-14, Hans went to an expensive boarding school, where he had to work while attending classes, first as a bank clerk, and then as secretary to a doctor.

v     At 14 Hans went to Copenhagen to work as an actor in the Royal Danish Theatre. He had an excellent soprano voice, but it soon changed, so he switched to writing.

v     At 17 he published his first story, The Ghost at Palnatoke's Grave.

v     He later said his years in school were the darkest and most bitter of his life. His writing was discouraged (odradzovany), and he was even abused (zneužívaný) to “improve his character.”

v     The love of Andersen’s life was a girl named Riborg Voigt, but they never married. Hans met her in his youth, and he kept a letter which she wrote till the day he died. He kept it in a little pouch (vak).

v     Hans never married, being very shy with women. They thought of him more as a brother. He was also rejected (vyradený) by a couple men he fell in love with.

v     In 1833 he received a small traveling grant from the King, enabling him to set out on the first of many journeys through Europe. These trips inspired many of his stories.

v     In 1835, Hans published his first volume of Fairytales, including Thumbalina, The Little Mermaid, and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

v     In 1845, his fairytales were translated into four different languages, boosting his popularity. The Danish government soon considered him a national treasure.

Memorial at the Rosenborg Castle Gardens, Copenhagen
sculpture by August Saabye
v     In 1847 he met Charles Dickens. Both authors wrote about the problem of poverty, so they greatly respected each other.

v     He died of liver cancer. For the funeral, he recommended, “Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps.”

v     Andersen’s birthday, on April 2nd, is International Children’s Book Day.

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