Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."
"Far out in the ocean the water is as blue as the petals of the loveliest cornflower, and as clear as the purest glass. But it is very deep too. It goes down deeper than any anchor rope will go, and many, many steeples would have to be stacked one on top of another to reach from the bottom to the surface of the sea. It is down there that the sea folk live."
"Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess, but she have to be a real one. he traveled around the whole world looking for her; but every time he met a princess there was always something amiss. There were plenty of princesses but not one of them was quite to his taste. Something was always the matter: they just weren't real princesses. So he returned home very sad and sorry, for he has set his heart on marrying a real princess."
"Scholars well-acquainted with the tale confirm its transparency, asserting that it is a simple story of a seeing through the trappings of power to reveal 'the truth' of the Emperor's vanity and the courtiers' pusillanimity. Jacques Derrida proposes that the tale's transparency is its truth; or rather, that the truth of Andersen's tale is that it flagrantly stages truth as a scene of public unveiling."
Andersen put many pieces of his own life into his fairy tales. He never forgot that his mother as a young girl had been forced to go begging. This led him to write "The Little Match Girl," a story full of compassion for the unfortunate ones of this Earth. And his own personal experiences are reflected in "The Ugly Duckling," which points out that sometimes the qualities that make you feel lonely, different, and out of place are the very qualities that, when properly used, can make you shine.
Consider just some of the most celebrated stories: "The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Princess on the Pea," "The Nightingale," "The Red Shoes," "The Little Match Girl," "Thumbelina," and "The Little Mermaid." All in all, he wrote about a hundred and fifty of them, and while all are not equally good – and many are really not meant Thumbelinafor children – all of them are told in Andersen's special satirical, comical, and sympathetic voice.
In 1874, the year before he died, Hans Christian Andersen was perhaps better known than any other living writer, an international celebrity somewhere on a level with Charles Dickens. Even people who were not quite sure of his name were aware of his writing – in particular his "Tales, told for children," the fairytales, first published in the early 1830s. Some of these stories are so famous that they seem to almost to exist without an author.
Andersen's literary fame grew rapidly from the mid-1830's, when his novels enjoyed widespread circulation in Germany. From 1839 onwards it was the fairy-tales that created his quite exceptional reputation in that country. It is from the mid-1840's that we date the great breakthrough in England and America for both tales and novels.
In 1829 his first book – an account of a walking trip – was published. After that, books came out at regular intervals. At first, he considered his adult books more important than his fantasies. In later life, however, he began to see that these apparently trivial stories could vividly portray constant features of human life and character, in a charming manner.
During Andersen's first years in Copenhagen (1819-22), he fought desperately to gain a foothold in the theatre as a ballet-dancer, actor or singer. Finally, when none of these attempts succeeded, he tried his hand as a playwright; this was also in vain, but resulted in the director's deciding to send him to school.
His parents were poor; his father worked as a shoemaker and his mother was a washerwoman. His father, who died when Andersen was 11, entertained him with old Danish legends and stories from <i>The Arabian Nights</i>.