Hans Christian Andersen's Biography (Books)
Hans Christian Andersen often referred to in Scandinavia as H. C. Andersen; 2 April 1805 - 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories, called eventyr in Danish or "fairy-tales" in English, express themes that transcend age and nationality.
Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. Some of his most famous fairy tales include "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Little Mermaid", "The Nightingale", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", and many more.
Andersen's fairy tales of fantasy with moral lessons are popular with children and adults all over the world, and they also contain autobiographical details of the man himself. Born on 2 April, 1805 in Odense, on the Danish island of Funen, Denmark, he was the only son of washerwoman Anna Maria Andersdatter (d.1833) and shoemaker Hans Andersen (d.1816). They were very poor, but Hans took his son to the local playhouse and nurtured his creative side by making him his own toys. Young Hans grew to be tall and lanky, awkward and effeminate, but he loved to sing and dance, and he had a vivid imagination that would soon find its voice.
Now that Andersen had achieved success by his pen he was not without his critics including philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, but fellow Dane Georg Brandis wrote his praises in many essays. He had met many other illustrious figures in his day including Bjornstjerne Bjornson, Honore de Balzac, Robert Browing and his wife and fellow poet and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Heinrich Heine, Henrik Ibsen, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, and Bertel Thorvaldsen. He stayed with friend Charles Dickens in London for a time, and was friends with the hereditary Grand Duke Carl Alexander of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach. He received the Knighthood of the Red Eagle from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1846, and the Maximilian Order of Art and Science from King Maximilian II of Bavaria in 1859.
Andersen sustained a serious injury in 1872 after falling from bed in his Copenhagen home. His final publication, a collection of stories, appeared the same year.
Around this time, he started to show signs of the liver cancer that would take his life. The Danish government began commemorating Andersen's life and work before his death. Plans got under way to erect a statue of the author, whom the government paid a "national treasure" stipend. Andersen died on August 4, 1875, in Copenhagen.