Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen, 1805–75, Danish poet, novelist, and writer of fairy tales. Reared in poverty, he left Odense at 14 for Copenhagen. 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. 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 widely 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, translated by S. Rossel and P. Conroy (1990); biographies by F. Böök (tr. 1962), R. Godden (1955), M. Stirling (1965), S. Toksvig (1934, repr. 1969), and E. Bredsdorff (1975).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

FREE! The Dream of Little Tuk, and Other Tales
Hans Christian Andersen.
James Miller, Publisher, 1877
The Nightingale
Hans Christian Andersen; Eva Le Gallienne; Nancy Ekholm Burkert; Eva Le Gallienne; Eva Le Gallienne.
Redcoat Press, 1954
Creative Spirits of the Nineteenth Century
Georg Brandes; Rasmus B. Anderson.
Crowell, 1923
Librarian’s tip: Chap. I "Hans Christian Andersen (1869)"
A History of Danish Literature
P. M. Mitchell; Mogens Haugsted.
Gyldendal, 1957
Librarian’s tip: "Chap. IX "Hans Christian Andersen"
A History of Danish Literature
Sven H. Rossel.
University of Nebraska Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Hans Christian Andersen" begins on p. 228
Separation and Creativity: Refinding the Lost Language of Childhood
Maud Mannoni; Susan Fairfield.
Other Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Hans Christian Andersen: A Childhood, a Life"
Cyclopedia of World Authors
Frank N. Magill; Dayton Kohler.
Harper & Row, 1958
Librarian’s tip: "Hans Christian Andersen" begins on p. 29
Stories and Tales
H. W. Dulcken; Hans Christian Andersen.
Routledge, 2002
FREE! Good Stories for Great Holidays: Arranged for Story-Telling and Reading Aloud and for the Children's Own Reading
Frances Jenkins Olcott.
Houghton Mifflin, 1914
Librarian’s tip: Includes 'The Mail-Coach Passengers' and other works by Hans Christian Anderson
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