Hans Christian Andersen

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Hans Christian Andersen, recorded at the age of 62
Andersen's signature

Listen to Hans Christian Andersen ? / i (born April 2, 1805 in Odense , † August 4, 1875 in Copenhagen ), who called himself HC Andersen as an artist throughout his life , is Denmark's most famous poet and writer. He became famous for his numerous fairy tales. Audio file / audio sample


Youth and education

Andersen's likely birthplace in Odense
Andersen's childhood home in Odense

Hans Christian Andersen was born as the son of the impoverished shoemaker Hans Andersen (1782-1816) and the alcoholic laundress Anne Marie Andersdatter (approx. 1775-1833) in Odense on Funen.

After the death of his father, he went to Copenhagen at the age of 14 and tried to get into the theater there as an actor . When he didn't succeed, however, he tried his hand at singing just as unsuccessfully and wrote his first little poems. Eventually, Conference Councilor Jonas Collin , then director of the Copenhagen Royal Theater , took him into his care and into his home. There he felt particularly drawn to the son of his host parents, Edvard Collin , who was rather alienated by this affection and who did not reciprocate it. He had a close friendship with his youngest daughter, Louise Collin .

Supported by the theater management and by King Friedrich VI. funded, he was able to attend a Latin school with Rector Simon Meisling in the small provincial town of Slagelse from 1822 to 1826 , another Latin school in Helsingør from 1826 to 1828 and then the University of Copenhagen .

First works and trips

Hans Christian Andersen, 1836 by CA Jensen

At the end of his school days he wrote the poem Das dying Kind , in which the author described the world from the perspective of a small child. This choice of perspective later became typical of his literary work. The poem has been published in several languages. During this time, at the age of around 18, Andersen also wrote his first, unpublished fairy tale about the tallow light, the manuscript of which was only found in 2012. In this work, as in later works, it is about wealth and beauty, albeit in a language that is still immature.

Andersen fell in love with Riborg Voigt , the sister of his college friend Christian Voigt. However, it was already promised to another man. He kept her suicide note for life in a leather bag that was only found after his death.

After Riborg's marriage, Andersen made several trips to Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Ottoman Empire. The first preforms of the Little Mermaid emerged under the influence of the Italian landscape . The description of the world in the fairy tale of the same name clearly shows Italian influences. On his 30 long journeys, he came 32 times to Dresden and 15 times to Maxen near Dresden, where he visited his friends, the patrons Friederike and Friedrich Anton Serre . There he also wrote: "The sunshine of your heart in Saxony, it shines most beautifully in Maxen."

Later years

Hans Christian Andersen in his living room in a photo taken by Clemens Weller in 1874
Hans Christian Andersen's grave in the assistance cemetery in Copenhagen

In his later years he was friends with many well-known women: Henriette Wulff († September 13, 1858 during the fire of Austria ), daughter of commander PF Wulff , also Sophie Ørsted , daughter of the discoverer of electromagnetism Hans Christian Ørsted , and Jenny Lind , too Called "the Swedish nightingale", which he adored. Andersen remained unmarried for life. With Edvard Collin , however, even after his marriage, he was by mutual agreement on a friendship at a distance. His extensive correspondence is in the Hans-Christian-Andersen-Center, including the letter from the painter Clara Heinke (eldest daughter of the lawyer Ferdinand Heinke ), in which she informed him of the death of Friederike Serre in August 1872.

There is controversial debate in science as to whether Andersen was homosexual . This discussion began as early as the 19th century and was deepened for the first time in 1901 with the article Hans Christian Andersen: Proof of His Homosexuality by Carl Albert Hansen Fahlberg (Albert Hansen) in Magnus Hirschfeld's yearbook for sexual intermediate stages . More recent studies have tried to work out the subject of homoerotic masking in Andersen's fairy tales and novels.

In May 1874, the poet received the photographer Clemens Weller from the Hansen, Schou & Weller company to have photographs taken of himself in his private rooms. In September of that year, Georg Emil Hansen made the last recordings. Andersen died at the age of seventy as an internationally recognized and revered poet on August 4, 1875 in Copenhagen and was buried there in the Copenhagen Assistant Cemetery.


Arthur Szyk : Frontispiece to an American edition of Andersen's fairy tales. New York 1945. The snow queen , the steadfast tin soldier and the emperor's nightingale can be recognized

Hans Christian Andersen, who as the author always used to shorten his name to HC Andersen , became famous for his numerous fairy tales , Danish: Eventyr , 156 in total. The following list is based on the order in the two volumes of Collected Fairy Tales .

Andersen worked on folk tales until they met his literary standards. Based on Danish, German, Greek and medieval legends and historical events, connected to popular belief and inspired by literary trends of his time, but also by natural phenomena, Andersen created the most significant art fairy tales of Biedermeier . Andersen's fairy tales, some of which pay homage to other important Danish artists, such as the poet Ambrosius Stub or the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen , are not only timeless; they have long been part of world literature .

However, quite a few of these 156 fairy tales, as well as the autobiographical texts, novellas , dramas , poems and travelogues that testify to his creative wealth are rather unknown. Andersen is also hardly known as a novelist: In 1835 his first novel, Der Improvisator , was published, which he wrote while on a scholarship in Italy, and in 1848, along with other novels, The Two Baronesses , an orphan story.

  • 1833: Agnete og Havmanden , dramatic poem in two parts (German: Agnete and the Meermann , 1833)
  • 1835: Improvisatoren , Roman (Translated by Jörg Scherzer : Der Improvisator , 2004)
  • 1835–1848: Eventyr, fortalte for Børn , Kunstmärchen (German fairy tale, told for children , 1839)
  • 1836: OT , Roman (German OT , 1837)
  • 1837: Kun en Spillemand , Roman (German only one violinist , 1847)
  • 1840: skuespil , romantic drama in five acts (Eng. The Mulatto , 1840)
  • 1845: Den nye Barselstue , Komödie (German: The new nursery , 1853)
  • 1847 Ahasverus , epos (dt. Ahasver , 1847)
  • 1849: De to Baronesser , Roman (Eng. The two baronesses , 1848)
  • 1851: I Sverrig , travel book (German In Sweden , 1851)
  • 1852: Historians , stories and fairy tales (German stories , 1909)
  • 1855: With Livs Eventyr , autobiography (German: The fairy tale of my life , 1847 digitized )
  • 1863: I Spain , travel book (German In Spain / A visit to Portugal , 1866)
  • 1869: Hønse-Grethes family (literary reference to the life of Marie Grubbe )
  • 1870: Lykke-Peer , Roman (German Glücks-Peter , 1871)



In the 1830s, the young poet found greater recognition in Germany than in his own homeland. His novel Der Improvisator (1835) soon appeared in German translation. The fairy tales appeared in various German translations as early as 1840, including those of his school friend Friedrich Carl Petit .

Although Andersen always wrote in Danish, the first of his published autobiographies , translated as The Fairy Tale of My Life Without Poetry , was published in German in 1846. (It wasn't until 1855 that his great Danish autobiography, Mit Livs Eventyr, appeared .)

On a trip to Germany in 1831, Andersen met the poet and naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso , who wrote his own poem in Andersen's family book and later translated some of Andersen's poems into German.

A volume with several smaller prose writings, the Danish original texts of which were only printed later, appeared in Leipzig in 1860 as Aus Herz und Welt.

Film adaptations

Hans Christian Andersen, 1860
HC Andersen statue in Central Park (New York, USA)
HC Andersen statue in Málaga (Spain)



Arthur Rackham , Edmund Dulac , Kay Nielsen , Iwan Bilibin , Paul Hey , Elsa Beskow , Artuš Scheiner , Sulamith Wülfing , Franz Wacik , Heinrich Lefler , Yan 'Dargent , Vilhelm Pedersen and Hugo Steiner-Prag created important illustrations for Andersen's fairy tales .


  • The life story of Hans Christian Andersen is the focus of Johann Kresnik's dance piece Hans Christian Andersen , which premiered in December 2005 at the Bonn Opera .
  • The Markus Zohner theater company in 2005 brought the musical play Hans Christian Andersen - The Double Life of a Remarkable Poet , directed by Patrizia Barbuiani out. The play tells the life of Hans Christian Andersen in colorful scenes and images, from his birth in Odense, his training in Copenhagen and Slagelse, through his travels and important encounters, right up to his death.
  • In Andersen's stories, Theater Basel staged the relationship with Edvard Collin as a tragic love story. The cross-disciplinary drama opera premiered in Basel in 2019 .

Appreciations and souvenirs

Andersen Awards


  • In the Danish Odense there are two museums: HC Andersen's House and Hans Christian Andersen's Childhood Home
    • Another museum in Odense, which will be dedicated to the magic of the Andersen fairy tales, has been in planning for years and is to be realized with a donation made in November 2016.
  • There is a Hans Christian Andersen Museum in the Californian town of Solvang


See also



  • André Roes: Kierkegaard en Andersen . Uitgeverij Aspect, Soesterberg 2017, ISBN 978-94-6338-215-1 .
  • Jens Andersen: Hans Christian Andersen. A biography . Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-458-17251-3 .
  • Lothar Bolze: Hans Christian Andersen in Dresden and Maxen . Niggemann and Simon, Müglitztal 2005, ISBN 3-9808477-7-2 .
  • Heinrich Detering : The Open Secret. On the literary productivity of a taboo from Winckelmann to Thomas Mann, Göttingen [1995], ISBN 3-89244-070-0 , pp. 175–232.
  • Johan de Mylius: The German Andersen: To justify the biographical Andersen picture in Germany. In: Heinrich Detering, Anne-Bitt Gerecke, Johan de Mylius: Danish-German double: transnational and bicultural literature between baroque and modern. Göttingen: Wallstein 2001 (Grenzzüge. Studies on the Scandinavian-German Literary History 3) ISBN 978-3-89244-356-8 , pp. 157-173.
  • Heinrich Detering: Andersen and others. A brief Danish-German cultural history of Kiel. Heide 2005, ISBN 3-8042-1159-3 .
  • Heinrich Detering, Günter Grass (Ed.): Hans Christian Andersen. The fivefold sea voyage. With Hans Christian Andersen through Schleswig and Holstein. Wachholtz, Neumünster, Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-529-02376-7 .
  • Uwe Ebel: Hans Christian Andersen. Politology and poetology of his work. (Scientific series, 5). Metelen: dev 1994, ISBN 3-927397-64-4 .
  • Frederike Felcht: Coming home where? Hans Christian Andersen's trip to the Orient , in: Helge Baumann, Michael Weise et al. (Ed.): Have you already flown tired? Travel and homecoming as cultural anthropological phenomena. Marburg 2010, ISBN 3-8288-2184-7 , pp. 115-135.
  • Ulrich Sonnenberg: Hans Christian Andersens Copenhagen , Frankfurt: Schöffling, 1996, ISBN 3-89561-549-8 .
  • Kai H. Thiele: Sensitive journey: The journey of the poet Hans Christian Andersen to the royal summer residence in Wyk auf Föhr in the summer of 1844 , Verlag Husum, 2011, ISBN 978-3-89876-541-1 .
  • Paul Binding: Hans Christian Andersen: European Witness , New Haven [u. a.]: Yale Univ. Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-300-16923-2 .

Web links

Commons : Hans Christian Andersen  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Hans Christian Andersen  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ Hans Christian Andersen - Books and Biography
  2. Hans Christian Andersen: Proof of His Homosexuality (PDF; 43 kB), accessed on June 3, 2012
  3. Heinrich Detering : The open secret. On the literary productivity of a taboo from Winckelmann to Thomas Mann, Göttingen [1995], pp. 175–232.
  4. Ane Grum-Schwensen, curator of HC Andersen Hus: Reconstructing the Study (English)
  5. ^ Hans Christian Andersen: Collected Fairy Tales Volume 1 and Volume 2; Manesse Verlag, Conzett & Huber - edited on the basis of older translations uz T. newly translated by Fl. Storrer-Madelung with an afterword by Martin Bodmer; Zurich o.A.
  6. Tilman Spreckelsen : Why did the novel “OT” remain unknown in this country for so long? . In 2019, OT was re-translated (by Heinrich Denhardt) with a foreword by Heinrich Detering in Secession Verlag, ISBN 978-3-966-39002-6 .
  7. In Andersen's family book - Adelbert von Chamisso - Kalliope
  8. The Soldier - Adelbert von Chamisso - Kalliope
  9. World premiere at Theater Basel - the opera play “Andersen's Stories” is convincing. September 28, 2019, accessed January 6, 2020 .
  10. Denmark plans new Hans Christian Andersen Museum orf.at, November 1, 2016, accessed on November 1, 2016.
  11. ^ Museum in Solvang
  12. Fairy Tale Coins. National Bank of Denmark , May 18, 2011, accessed October 6, 2013 .
  13. Rosa: "HC Andersen"
  14. ^ Mathias Jung: The ugly duckling. The redemption from the inferiority complex 2nd edition 2011. emu-Verlag GmbH, Lahnstein, pp. 67–68
  15. ^ Mathias Jung: The ugly duckling. The redemption from the inferiority complex 2nd edition 2011. emu-Verlag GmbH, Lahnstein, pp. 67–68
  16. Estatua de Hans Christian Andersen en Málaga. Retrieved October 29, 2017 (Spanish).