Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was a Danish author. A prolific writer of plays, novels, travel books, and several autobiographies, his works are almost unknown outside of Denmark except for his literary fairytales, which are widely renowned and are among the most frequently translated works in all of literary history, and have inspired ballets, plays, and movies.


Born to poor parents, Andersen fought the rigid class structure of his time throughout his life. Andersen’s father, also Hans, introduced him to literature. Following his father’s death in 1816, his mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, remarried in 1818, and Andersen received a basic education and supported himself, being an apprentice to a weaver then a tailor.


At 14, Andersen moved to Copenhagen in the vain hope of winning fame as an actor. One of the directors of the Royal Danish Theatre, Jonas Collin, held great affection for Andersen and raised money to send him to a grammar school, which he later said were the darkest and most bitter years of his life. Despite being discouraged from writing, he self-published a short story in 1929, which was a fantastic tale in the style of E. T. A. Hoffmann, and enjoyed considerable success. He then turned to playwriting. The theatre, however, was not to become his field, and for a long time he was regarded primarily as a novelist—most of his novels are autobiographical.


Andersen’s first book of fairytales was published in three instalments between 1835 and 1837, and included stories such as ‘The Princess and The Pea,’ ‘Thumbelina,’ and ‘The Little Mermaid,’ which was influenced by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s ‘Undine’ (1811) and lore about mermaids. These were not immediately recognised and sold poorly, but he returned with more collections, which included ‘The Snow Queen’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling.’ 1845 saw his works begin to be translated, and he would continue to write and publish fairytales in instalments until 1872, three years before his death.

Available Titles by Hans Christian Andersen: