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Hans Christian Andersen: The Story

Every corner in Denmark is dipped in the fantasy world of Hans Christian Andersen. Wherever you go, whether it’s a city or town, you’ll always find a reference to him.

Danes love and adore him. And who wouldn’t? It’s a real blessing to have  a genius like this as one of the symbols of the country.

Photo by Eugene Phoen

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense in 1805. Tourists will understand this as soon as they step into this city. Every building and every street is soaked in the style of Andersen. His parents were very poor and lived in a one-room house. The city itself was not getting any attention from the viewpoint of wealth. Progress was not vivid here, one could come across rural traditions that were creative enough to become an inspiration for young Hans.

Andersen’s mother was washerwoman, and his father was a shoemaker. Despite the financial difficulties, Andersen spent many hours developing his creativity, which would later make him one of the best writers of all time.

This stock of creativity was mainly originated from the opportunity of making his own toys. Everything was clear, the better toys he made, the more fun it will be. This is how inspiration and creativity entered into the routine of his daily life.

Later on, he traveled to Copenhagen to become an actor at the Royal Theatre. A few very difficult years were spent at the University of Copenhagen. He was determined to achieve success in Copenhagen, but he was, perhaps, not ready to enter the bourgeois society. His home, family, background was nothing like it. However, the challenges payed off and his first poem, “”The Dying Child,” was published in Copenhagen Post in 1827.

The work of men is usually recognized when we don’t have them beside us anymore. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Hans Christian Andersen. He received a few awards, i.e. Knighthood of the Red Eagle from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1846, the Maximilian Order of Art and Science from King Maximilian II of Bavaria in 1859. Andersen was also made an Honorary Citizen of Odense in 1867.

Photo by Sarah_Ackerman

Liver cancer took his life in Copenhagen in 1875, aged 70. He is currently buried in Assistens Cemetery, where you can pay him a visit.

No matter how much success he had in his literary life, his personal one was not very rich. He never married or had any children. This fact is quite upsetting, considering the amount of inspiration his kids would get daily.

There are dozens of statues all over the country honoring the memory of this great author. Do read a few of his works before travelling to his country. This will be a great conversation opener with the locals.

Andersen’s Works

Andersen has written hundreds of works. Poems, novels . . . nothing can equal to the fairy-tales, which are 168 in number.

Apart from great fantasy and humor, Andersen’s tale are filled with moral lessons. Kindness, generosity, and so on. If you want your kid to grow up a good person, these tales are the ones to read to him.

There are many elements of his own life in the stories. If you are familiar with it, it won’t be difficult to spot the allusions in the text.

Photo by -JvL-

The titles alone will remind you the beautiful stories. Here are some of the most popular fairy tales, which were also turned into cartoons and movies: the Tinder-Box, the Princess and the Pea, Little Tiny or Thumbelina, the Brave Tin Soldier, the Ugly Duckling, and so on. The Ugly Duckling is very important, if you want to know how he felt during his university years. This fairy tale is also related to Andersen personally, because his talent and success, Andersen was not too lucky in regard of appearance. Take the chronological order of his stories and his biography, draw some parallels, and you’ll discover too many similarities that just can’t be a coincidence.

The most famous work is the Little Mermaid. The statue of the mermaid, located in Copenhagen, is one of the most popular images related to Denmark and Danish culture. If you’re looking for a good souvenir, you can purchase even one of the mini mermaid statues or the book of Andersen’s stories, which will, of course, contain the Little Mermaid.

Another very interesting fairy tale is the Snow Queen. This particular story has been featured in many cartoons and movies. It still remains one of my favorite ones. Even though I’m not a child, the morale still amazes me every time I read it.

Photo by koninklijkebibliotheek

As the whole country is a big bowl of Andersen’s world, it’s definitely a great destination for the whole family. Generally speaking, Denmark is a very family-oriented country. Sometimes I even think there are way more attractions for kids than for grown-ups.

One could say Andersen was what we’d call an American Dream today (although it’s a little too far away from America). He came from a poor background, but his talent and hard work made him a person history will never forget. A whole nation is proud due to him. A whole world, several generations, grew up listening to the magical stories composed by one of the greatest Danish hands.


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