Hans Christian Andersen

Written by: Emily Vargo

Growing up, you probably watched the movie or heard of The Little Mermaid. When you think of The Little Mermaid, you most likely think of Disney, but there was a man who created this beloved character, and his name is Hans Christian Andersen.

Hans was born on April 2, 1805, in Odense, Denmark. Growing up, Han’s Father would read him fairy tales which would spark his interest in his future career.

His father, however, only had an elementary education and his mother was a washerwoman who never had any education. Hans went to a school for poor children growing up and had to support himself. While in school, he worked as an apprentice weaver and then a tailor. At the age of 14, Hans left for Copenhagen to pursue acting.

Hans had an excellent soprano voice, leading him to a spot in the Royal Danish Theater. This, however, didn’t last long due to the fact that Hans hit puberty and his voice changed. A colleague of Han’s told him that he seemed like a poet. This led Hans to focus on writing.

Soon Han’s director sent him to Grammer school, where he persuaded the King to pay for half of Han’s education. While in school, Hans published his first book in 1822 called “The Ghost a Palnatoke’s Grave.” His school days were far from glamorous.

Han was not the best in his class, and many teachers discouraged him from writing. In 1829 Hans enjoyed success with his short story “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager” and then again with a theatrical piece called “Love on St. Nicholas Church Tower.”

This success launched his career, where he kept publishing short stories, journals, and fairy tale books. On May 8, 1835, Hans published his first fairy tale book, which contained “The Tinderbox,” “Little Clause and Big Clause,” “The Princess and the Pea,” and “Little Ida’s Flowers.”

On December 16, 1835, he published his second fairy tale book that contained “Thumbelina,” “The Naughty Boy,” and “The Traveling Companion.” Then on April 7, 1837, Han’s third fairy tale book was published, which contained “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

His third book is considered his most popular fairy tale book. Critics at the time found the first two to not be enthusiastic. However, Hans’s books would be discussed throughout the world, and he was no longer considered lower class.

During Hans’s time of success, there looks to be a time of confusion. Looking at his diaries, he was attracted to both men and women. At one point in time, he fell in love with a man, but the relationship was seen as wrong. People were starting to notice, and Hans’s lover left. Then, later on, Hans fell in love with a woman and asked for her hand in marriage, but she turned him down, saying that he was like a brother to her. On August 4, 1875, Hans passed away from liver cancer, leaving behind a legacy of books still loved today. Even after his death, stories and books were found like “The Ugly Duckling” and were still being published for the world to read.

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