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Original Fairy Tales > Andersen: Overview

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
“The Ugly Duckling”. “The Little Mermaid”. “The Tinderbox”.
Hans Christian Andersen is famous for his fairy tales. Yet, he is perhaps as little known as he is well known.
Hans Christian Andersen’s father was a shoe maker, his mother a washer-woman who had a child out wedlock prior to her marriage. Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark. Andersen’s father became a soldier for Denmark in the wars against Germany. While he never saw action, the marching ruined Andersen’s father’s health. Hans Christian Andersen spent time with his Grandmother, who most likely told him the folktales that form the basis for several of his fairy tales. Andersen’s mother was known for drinking, and while Andersen was for time apprenticed in a factory, he refused to go back after being teased by the other works. Looking at the various accounts of this event, it seems that today we would call it hazing.
Andersen though good fortune and his singing talent was able to get sponsorship to Copenhagen where he tried to join the National Ballet. Unfortunately, while Andersen could sing, he couldn’t dance. He appeared once as a troll. Eventually he was able to get the sponsorship of the Collins family, a well to do family to which Andersen would be constantly. He was sent away to school, where he had a horrible time, and eventually was taken back to Copenhagen and given a private tutor. He had already begun his writing. Not fairy tales, but plays and a travel essay. The tales would come later as would adult stories, various travel logs and other plays and poems. Andersen is also remembered in Denmark for writing a Hymn.
Andersen never married. While his journals indict visiting prostitutes, the Copenhagen Sex Museum states the belief that Andersen read them fairy stories. Anderson’s most intense relationship was with the Collins’ family son, Edvard. Danish has formal and intimate forms of the word you (like French). Andersen begged Edvard to use the intimate form; Edvard never did. Andersen was actually buried with Edvard and Edvard’s wife, until the Collins family had the two moved.
Andersen traveled to Germany, Italy (where he met Thorvaldsen, a famous Danish sculpture) and even visited Dickens, who didn’t like him after the visit.
Today, you can travel to Denmark and visit several related Andersen sights, including his birthplace and his house at Odense. There is the Little Mermaid statue in the harbor in Copenhagen. The statue has suffered various indignities over the years, including a beheading. Many of Andersen’s tales feature Copenhagen or Danish landmarks or even food. Various friends, enemies, and acquaintances of Andersen also appear in the stories.


message 2: by Micah (new)

Micah Harris | 24 comments When Andersen's mother told him that his father had died, she explained that "the Ice Maiden got him!" Years later he would write one of his darker fairy tales about "The Ice Maiden." It's never caught on like "The Snow Queen" though the story is much more straight forward and heavy on the romance, Perhaps it is because it ends so disturbingly. Andersen was true to the real life inspiration. Like Andersen's father, the hero Rudy suffers a similar fate: "the Ice Maiden got him!"


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