Hans Christian Andersen Biography
Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a writer and poet. He was born in Odense, Denmark. His father worked as a shoemaker and his mother a laundress. He was a young man, passionate about theater, books, and comics. In spite of not having the means, he decided to leave his home with only 14 years to Copenhagen with the dream of trying his luck in the Theater, his great passion. This journey was not easy, he went through many months of hard times. However, it all ended when he met the director of the Royal Theater Jonas Collin, this important man seeing his imminent talent adopted him and sent to Slagelse school to receive a formal education.
The years he was enrolled in school, although they were not the kindest, pushed him to his artistic career. At this time he wrote his first work anonymously: “The dying child” (1827). Since then, the literary successes started booming. He began to connect with local newspapers and his poems began to be published. In addition, he presented his first prose work called “Walk from the Holmen’s Canal to the eastern tip of Amager”. Later, he would release his first play, “Love at St. Nicholas’ Tower”. Shortly after he published his first novel, “Life in Italy” (1835), it was well received and praised by great writers.
His visit to France and Italy were a remarkable contribution in his experience. For this reason, inspired by what he learned in his travels in 1835, he published the first edition of the “Fairy Tales”, a children’s work. Such was the success and the good reception of the readers that it makes Andersen include more stories in his production, which includes: The little mermaid, The little seller of matches, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling or The Snow Queen. They were translated into more than 120 languages. An event that catapulted his popularity worldwide.
He loved to travel, and he would use this to create all kinds of stories based on the culture and customs of those places he visited. For instance, he published a story called “I Spanien”, it was created after a visit to Spain during 1862 and 1863.
Some years later, he was named Favorite Son and Honorary Citizen of his native city. His sixth and final novel, Peter the Fortunate, he wrote in 1871. In 1872, he published the last installment of his fairy tales.
Their stories, despite being dedicated to children, are attractive to adults because of their moral and philosophical content present in each story. For example, the subject of death is a topic of interest to Hans, and he shows it as a continuation of life or a release of a life not so pleasant. He appears in The Little Match Girl (1845), Under the Willow Tree (1853), or Anne Lisbeth (1859). He also invoked the dilemma between reason or feeling. This theme can be found in The Snow Queen (1844), It was not useful at all (1853) or The Little Ondine. In The Ugly Duckling (1842), or The Dryad (1868) we can reflect the intention of the author to show situations where the characters are not happy with their lives.
Some of his stories are a reflection of his hard life during childhood and part of his youth. He created various characters who had no chance of success and subsequently managed to achieve success and fulfill their dreams. This is the case of works such as The lighter (1835) or Hans le balourd (1855). His stories have an amazing imaginative character, he gives human qualities to both, animals and objects, this represented a great change in literary works. In addition, women occupy a preponderant place in his writings and in his life. In some stories, there is no male presence.
In Andersen’s stories, nature and landscapes are described poetically and accurately. The style of his stories and his teachings are inspiring for readers, children and adults alike. Another of the peculiarities of his work is that he uses characters and traditions from the folklore of his country: elves, trolls, fairies, witches, elves, but also take as sources of inspiration the beliefs and legends of the countries he visited. One of his main innovations is the use of everyday language in order to leave a clear and understandable message to children.
Hans Andersen published more than 150 works. Some of the most popular stories are The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Snow Queen, The Red Shoes, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, The The Emperor’s new clothes, The Little Matchgirl, The Brave Little Tailor and The Little Mermaid. These are very popular all over the world and suitable for plays, ballets, films, sculpture, and painting.
The death of Christian Andersen took place on August 4, 1875, in Copenhagen, due to a liver cancer that took his life quickly. He was 70 years old.
His funeral was celebrated on August 11, to which a crowd of prominent people attended, including the King of Denmark. Hans was buried in the Assistens Cemetery in the Danish capital.