Andersen, Hans Christian (1805-1875)

Andersen, Hans Christian, one of the world's great story-tellers, the most widely popular of Danish authors, was born April 2, 1805, at Odense in Funen. The son of a poor shoemaker, after his father's death he worked in a factory, but his wonderful singing soon procured him friends and patrons. He early displayed a talent for poetry. Hoping to obtain an engagement in the theatre, he found his way to Copenhagen, but was rejected for his lack of education. He next tried to become a singer, but soon found that his physical qualities were quite unfitted for the stage. Generous friends, however, helped him ; and application having been made to the king, he was placed at an advanced school. Someofhispoejns, particularly The Dying Child, had already been favourably received, and he now became better known by his Walk to Amalc, a literary satire in the form of a humorous narrative. In' 1830 he published the first collected volume of his Poems, and in 1831 a second, under the title of Fantasies and Sketches. A travelling pension granted him by the king in 1833 bore fruit in his Travelling Sketches of a tour in the north of Germany; Agnes and the Merman, completed in Switzerland ; and The Improvisator a series of scenes inspired by Rome and Naples. Soon afterwards he produced O.T. (1836), a novel containing vivid pictures of northern scenery and manners, and Only a Fiddler (1837). Many more works might be mentioned, but it is such short stories as 'The Tin Soldier,' 'The Emperor's New Clothes,' 'The Tinder Box,' and 'The Goloshes of Fortune' that have made him a household divinity throughout the nurseries of the civilised world. He died at Copenhagen, 4th August 1875. See his genially egotistic Story of My Life (1855 ; Eng. trans. 1871), his Correspondence with the Grand-Duke of Saxe- Weimar (Eng. trans. 1891), and Life by Nisbet Bain (1895).
1. Chamber's Biographical Dictionary, Philadelphia, 1926, page 28.

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