The fairy tales written by Hans Christian Andersen are among some of my very favorites, including: The Snow Queen, The Little Match Girl, and The Princess and the Pea, to name just a few. Since last Saturday marked the birthday of the iconic children's author, today his life is the focus of Champions of Creativity.
Photo Credit: Christian Albrecht Jensen - H.C. Andersen 1836
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark on April 2, 1805, he was an only child. He grew up in a family that was not wealthy, nonetheless, his father introduced him to literature, and thanks to a grant, Hans later attended schools for privileged children.
His father died in 1816, and two years later Hans left for Copenhagen to study theatre after being told he had a lovely voice. Unfortunately, his voice soon changed and any hopes of an acting career faded away. However, an acting colleague told Hans he considered him to be a poet, so the young man turned his focus onto writing, a choice that was to positively affect children's literature forever.
Through 1835-1837 H. C. Andersen had his first Fairy Tales published. While they were not initially recognized, he was on his way as an author. Soon after that he traveled to Sweden, and was so taken with "Scandinavism" (the relatedness of Swedes, Danes, & Norwegians) that he wrote a poem entitled: I Am a Scandinavian.
He was to make many travels throughout his life, all of them had an impact on his writing. In 1847 he traveled to England and there met Charles Dickens. He said, "I was so happy to see and speak to England's now living writer, whom I love the most." Both authors had a passion for children of the underclass, and also those souls whose lives were being negatively affected by the Industrial Revolution.
In the spring of 1872 Hans Christian Andersen had a severe fall and never fully recovered. He also developed what is believed to have been cancer of the liver. He died on August 4, 1875 in the home of close friends in Copenhagen.
It is a widely held belief that he influenced such authors as Kenneth Grahame, Beatrix Potter, A. A. Milne, and C. S. Lewis with his storytelling technique of bringing inanimate objects to life.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote dozens of stories and poems by the end of his seventy years, many of which have been put to music or made into film or stage productions. As recently as 2013 the Walt Disney Animation Studios produced Frozen, which initially was to be based on The Snow Queen, but which was altered so much that the finished film bore little or no resemblance to Andersen's original story.