Who is Hans Christian Andersen? The Little Mermaid Writer.
No doubt you’ve seen Disney’s The Little Mermaid and are looking forward to the live-action version (now delayed because of Covid-19). But did you know it is based on a fairy tale published in 1837 by the world-famous Hans Christian Andersen? His original story had a sad ending, but Disney changed it to have a happy one. No surprise there!
Place of Birth
Hans Christian Andersen (the Danes call him H.C. Andersen) was born in the city of Odense on April 2, 1805. Odense is on Funen, the third largest of the Danish islands, but at the time of Andersen’s birth, it belonged to the Kingdom of Norway and Denmark.
Andersen’s father was a shoemaker and his mother washed clothes for wealthy people. Hans was an only child and the family was poor. When he was young his father read him stories, and he especially loved the Arabian Nights. When Hans was 11 his father died, and he was sent to a local school. He also had to earn money for himself and his mother, so he became an apprentice to a weaver and then to a tailor. When his mother remarried, Hans, at the age of 14, moved to Copenhagen to seek his fortune as an actor.
“H.C. Andersen was probably dyslexic, which meant he would have had difficulty reading and writing. It didn’t prevent him from being one of the world’s best-known authors!”
Singing and Acting
Hans was a very clumsy boy and wasn’t very good at acting. However, he had a beautiful soprano voice and was taken on by the Royal Danish Theatre. Unfortunately, his voice broke soon after and he was out of a job. However, one of the theatre directors sent him to a grammar school to finish his education. Meanwhile, Hans began to write stories and poems.
Hans began writing novels, poems, travel books, and plays. His writing was often published and some of his work became popular, but he was not by any means a famous author. All that was to change in 1835 when he began writing a very different type of book.
“Andersen was friendly with the great writer Charles Dickens and visited him in England.”
In 1837, Andersen’s first book of fairy tales was published. It contained many of the stories that are now known and loved by children and adults alike. The world was introduced to such favorites as Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Tinderbox, The Little Mermaid, and The Princess and the Pea. Hans continued to write fairy tales until 1872. The Nightingale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, and The Little Match Girl are just some of his tales that are world-famous.
He wrote more than 3,000 stories that have been published in 125 languages. Many of them have been rewritten and performed as plays, films, and ballets all over the globe.
“Andersen loved to travel and wrote many famous books about his visits to other countries.”
The Little Mermaid
Hans Christian Andersen became ill in 1872 and died in Copenhagen on August 4, 1875. One of the busiest and widest streets in the Danish capital is named H. C. Andersens Boulevard in his honor. The small bronze statue of Andersen’s Little Mermaid in the harbor is one of Copenhagen’s biggest attractions to this day.