The classic biography of the man whose stories have enchanted the world
The story of the extraordinary man who was Hans Christian Andersen is no less strange than his own, utterly individual tales. Born in 1805 into a poor family, he was an ‘ugly duckling’, gawky and awkward, driven by the passionate belief in his own innate talents. The man who became a literary lion throughout Europe and Britain, and a national institution in his native Denmark, remained until his death lonely and ill at ease with other people. Yet nearly 140 years after his death he is still a household name, his stories known and loved throughout the world.
This sympathetic and meticulously documented biography records Andersen’s life from his humble beginnings in Odnese, through his early struggles for recognition in Copenhagen, to the success that only came to him when he adopted the story form that was his natural expression. Not universally liked, he nevertheless received generous patronage from the nobility, and was welcomed by the literary giants whose approval he sought so determinedly.
An important part of the book is devoted to the analysis of the tales – a revelation to those who know them only as stories for children. When read in their original form they display all the wit, charm and sheer genius that were so lacking in Andersen’s social dealings with his fellow men.
Illustrated with 24 pages of photographs and numerous line drawings, this highly readable book does full justice to a man who could give his true nature full rein only in the tales that have assured him of immortality.