Hans Christian Andersen Biography

Hans Christian Andersen was a famous Danish writer, known for his fairy tales, as well as other works.

Birth and Education

Hans Christian Andersen was born in the slums of Odense. His father was a cobbler (shoemaker) and his mother worked as a washerwoman. His mother was also uneducated and superstitious. Andersen received very little education, but his fascination with fairy tales inspired him to compose his own stories and arrange puppet shows, on a theater his father had taught him to build and manage.

Even with his imagination, and the stories his father told him, Andersen did not have a happy childhood.

Hans Christian Andersen Death:

Andersen died in his home in Rolighed on August 4, 1875.

Hans Christian Andersen Career:

His father died when Andersen was 11 (in 1816). Andersen was forced to go to work, first as an apprentice to a weaver and tailor and then in a tobacco factory. At the age of 14, he moved to Copenhagen to try a career as a singer, dancer and actor. Even with the support of benefactors, the next three years were difficult. He sang in the boy's choir until his voice changed, but he made very little money. He also tried the ballet, but his awkwardness made such a career impossible.

Finally, when he was 17, Chancellor Jonas Collin discovered Andersen. Collin was a director at the Royal Theater. After hearing the Andersen read a play, Collin realized that he had talent. Collin procured money from the king for Andersen's education, first sending him to a terrible, taunting teacher, then arranging a private tutor.

In 1828, Andersen passed the entrance examinations to the university in Copenhagen. His writings were first published in 1829. And, in 1833, he received grant money for travel, which he used to visit Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy. During his journey, he met Victor Hugo, Heinrich Heine, Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas.

In 1835, Andersen published Fairy Tales for Children, which contained four short stories. He eventually wrote 168 fairy tales. Among Andersen's best known fairy tales are "Emperor's New Clothes," "Little Ugly Duckling," "The Tinderbox," "Little Claus and Big Claus," "Princess and the Pea," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "The Nightingale," "The Story of a Mother and The Swineherd."

In 1847, Andersen met Charles Dickens. In 1853, he dedicated A Poet's Day Dreams to Dickens. Anderson's work influenced Dickens, along with other writers like William Thackeray and Oscar Wilde.