Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen, 1805–75, Danish poet, novelist, and writer of fairy tales. Born to an illiterate washerwoman and reared in poverty, he left Odense at 14 for Copenhagen, where he lived with a wealthy family. 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, and 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 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, tr. by S. Rossel and P. Conroy (1990); biographies by F. Böök (tr. 1962), R. Godden (1955), M. Stirling (1965), S. Toksvig (1934, repr. 1969), E. Bredsdorff (1975), J. Andersen (2005), and P. Binding (2014).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hans Christian Andersen: Selected full-text books and articles

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