Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875



Hans Christian Andersen was born in Denmark in 1805. He was an only child. Andersen's father had received an elementary school education but introduced Andersen to literature, reading to him Arabian Nights. Andersen's mother was an uneducated washerwoman and following her husband's death in 1816, she remarried in 1818. Andersen was sent to a local school for poor children where he received a basic education and had to support himself. At fourteen, he moved to Copenhagen to seek employment as an actor but a colleague at the theatre told him that he considered Andersen a poet. Taking the suggestion seriously, Andersen began to focus on writing.

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Andersen's initial attempts at writing fairy tales were revisions of stories that he heard as a child. Initially his original fairy tales were not met with recognition, due partly to the difficulty of translating them. Also the quality of these stories was not immediately recognized, and they sold poorly. Year 1845 saw a breakthrough for Andersen with the publication of four translations of his fairy tales. "The Little Mermaid" appeared in a periodical followed by a second volume, "Wonderful Stories for Children". Two other volumes were enthusiastically received and a review that appeared in the London journal) said of Wonderful Stories, "This is a book full of life and fancy; a book for grandfathers no less than grandchildren, not a word of which will be skipped by those who have it once in hand". Andersen would continue to write fairy tales and published them in installments until 1872.



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