Other than the Brothers Grimm, Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen is also a popular creator of fairytales. With works like “The Little Mermaid,” “Thumbelina,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and many more, Andersen will be remembered for many more years to come.
Andersen was born in 1816 in Odense, Denmark. His first exposure to literature were the stories in the Arabian Nights. He was sent to a local school by his mother, but Andersen had to support himself throughout his basic education. He made money by becoming an apprentice for a weaver and a tailor. Andersen moved to Copenhagen at the age fourteen, intent on becoming an actor. At a young age, he had an impressive soprano voice, which gained him acceptance to the Royal Danish Theater. Once his voice started to change due to puberty, he shifted to writing.
While at the Royal Danish Theater, Andersen was sent to grammar school with the help of the theater’s director, Jonas Collin. Later on, Collin also persuaded then King Frederick VI to grant a partial scholarship to Andersen.
The Ghost at Palnatoke’s Grave (1822) was Andersen’s first published work, after which he shifted to poetry and short stories. Eventually, he attempted rewriting the stories he was told as a child, collecting them into a single volume. Andersen published his first two fairy tale collections in 1835. The collections contained nine fairy tales, including “The Tinderbox,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” However, his novels were more popular than his fairytales.
In 1838, he returned to fairy tales with another collection, Fairy Tales Told for Children. This contained “The Daisy,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” and “The Wild Swans.” In 1945, some of his fairy tales were translated, and “The Little Mermaid” appeared in a periodical called Bentley’s Miscellany. In 1846, he received high praise for “The Little Mermaid” from a London journal called the Athenaeum. This was the beginning of his rise to fame.
Andersen became an international celebrity and was an even bigger figure in Denmark. The government gave him an annual stipend, which allowed him to live comfortably for the rest of his life.
One of Andersen’s most popular stories is “The Little Match Girl,” which was published in 1845. Set during New Year’s Eve, the story is about a poor young girl trying to sell matches in the street. Unable to take the cold, the girl sits down in an alley and lights one of the matches to keep herself warm. Once the match is lit, she sees lovely visions. As she lights more matches, each vision becomes better than the last until, finally, she sees a vision of her dead grandmother, the only person who treated her well. To keep the vision of her grandmother, the match girl lights matchstick after matchstick. Once she runs out of matches, the little girl dies and is reunited with her grandmother—a happy ending for the little girl.
“The Little Match Girl,” though a very tragic story, inspires hope. It has been adapted across different media and translated into many languages. Hans Christian Andersen is remembered not only for his prolific amount of work but also for stories with bittersweet endings.
This holiday season, we are telling the stories of the best Christmas storytellers. Watch out for more Christmas specials on our blog! For editing needs throughout the holidays, visit our main site at 1hourproofreading.com. Season’s greetings!
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