The Fairytale Life of Hans Christian Andersen

By | April 13, 2019

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Hans Christian Andersen. Source: (

Two of Disney’s most popular movies, The Little Mermaid (1989) and Frozen (2013), were based on fairy tales written by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen was the author of various other genres of work including novels, poems, travel books, and plays. However, it is for his fairy tales that he has achieved worldwide renown.

Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, on April 2, 1805, an only child to Hans Andersen Sr. and his wife Anne Marie. Despite the fact that his parents were poor, Andersen attended elite boarding schools and was rumored to be an illegitimate member of the Danish royal family. He had brief hopes of becoming an actor and in 1819, he moved to Copenhagen to pursue that dream. He was unsuccessful; however, he gained the support of one of the directors at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Jonas Collin, who paid for Andersen to return to school. Collin also encouraged Andersen to begin writing.

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University of Copenhagen. Source: (

In 1828, Andersen was admitted to the University of Copenhagen. The following year he wrote his first notable work, a short story entitled “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager.” He later wrote a book of poetry and a travelogue before being awarded a grant from the king which allowed him to travel across Europe. His travels inspired several autobiographical novels including The Improvisatore (1835), OT: A Danish Romance (1836) and Only A Fiddler (1837). In 1840, he wrote a play about the evils of slavery entitled “The Mulatto.”