Hans Christian Andersen
Born on the 2nd of April 1805, Hans Christian Andersen is Denmark’s most famous writer by far, having written over 200 fairy tales and well over 1000 poems. Andersen was born into quite a modest family, but luckily his father, who had attended elementary education, was able to introduce him to literature, as his mother was illiterate.
After the death of his father, his mother remarried, and Andersen was sent to a school for poor children where he had to also support himself working as an apprentice weaver and, later, an apprentice tailor.
He moved to Copenhagen at the age of fourteen to become an actor and was accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre because of his great soprano voice, but as he grew his voice changed.
The director of the Royal Danish Theatre liked Andersen and he managed to persuade King Frederik VI to pay for the boy’s education, and thus he was sent to attend grammar school in Slagelse and later in Elsinore.
He later said that his time in the school in Elsinore was the darkest time of his life as he had to live with the schoolmaster who abused him to ‘’build his character’’ and also discouraged him from writing. Because of this he plunged into a severe depression.
In 1847 Andersen travelled to England and attended several parties held by The Countess Of Blessington and it was at one of these parties that he met Charles Dickens, after meeting him he wrote in his diary “We had come to the veranda, I was so happy to see and speak to England’s now living writer, whom I love the most.” (source:Wikipedia)
He travelled to England again primarily to meet Dickens but their relationship fell to pieces after Andersen extended what was supposed to be a casual visit, to five weeks. After five weeks Dickens asked him to leave and never answered his correspondence again, to the confusion of Andersen, who did not understand why.
Back to Denmark
Hans Christian Andersen died on the 4th of August 1872 at the age of 70, in a house called Rolighed (which in Danish means ‘calmness’). He was buried in the Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro district, in the Collins family plot.