Hans Christian Andersen's personal fairy tale

Photo: Johan Joensen

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense on April 2, 1805, the son of shoemaker Hans Andersen and the washerwoman Anne Marie Andersdatter. As a child his favorite occupation was making up stories, and as a 14-year-old he decided to seek his fortune at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.

As a 14 year old he published his first book - Ungdoms-Forsøg - under a pseudonym and submitted a tragedy to the Royal Theatre. The play was rejected, but the theatre board agreed to help the young writer and enabled him to get and education. He finished his schooling in 1829 as a cand.phil. and started working exclusively as a writer. What he really wanted to do was act, but despite trying hard he was never very successful in this field.

During the first years of his authorship (1828-1835) he tried his hand at many genres and his rich imagination, comic sense and daring shines through. His big break through came in 1835 with the novel "The Improvisatore" and his first fairy tales "Fairy tales told to children". At the same time he gained an audience abroad with his novels and became particularly popular in England and Germany.

“It doesn't matter if you're born in a duck yard, so long as you are hatched from a swan's egg!”
Hans Christian Andersen

Already during his life time, his fairy tales and novels were translated into multiple languages which gained him an ever rising popularity.

Sharply contrasting with his career, his personal life was never a very happy one. His love life was largely a series of unrequited love affairs and he lived alone, plagued by worries. On the positive side he had a large circle of like-minded friends.

Andersen died in 1875 and was mourned internationally.

With his fertile imagination and his - for his time - radical and modern view of art, Andersen is one of the most interesting characters in Danish cultural history and has contributed not only literary works but also drawings, paper cuttings and picture books.