Hans Christian Anderson: Fairytale Author And Legend

On this day, we celebrate the 217th birthday of Hans Christian Anderson, well-known for his fairy tales such as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Snow Queen”!

Book Culture On This Day

If you consider yourself a Disney fan, then you’re already a follower of the fairytales of Hans Christian Anderson! Many of our childhoods contained the literary influences of this prolific writer, from fairytale stories such as The Little Match Girl or The Princess and the Pea, or on the big screen with Disney movies such as “Frozen” or “The Little Mermaid.” Today, we celebrate his birthday, life, and his influence towards the entertainment of our childhoods!

Anderson’s Childhood and Early Life

Anderson was born and raised in Odense, Denmark. He grew up in a poor, uneducated family, but overcame these class and socio-economic struggles through his writing and education. Anderson attended the University of Copenhagen, and spent his early career trying to be an actor. Although he struggled and hated his school years, his time as a student allowed him to find his talent in poetry, where he began looking forward to a writing career. And thank goodness for us that he did!

Hans Christian Andersen: Biography & Fairy Tales | Study.com
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Anderson wrote and published his first work of writing in 1820, a short story titled “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager.” Although his earlier short stories did not receive a lot of recognition, they were enough to provide him income and allowed him to explore his options. He explored a career as a playwright for some time, too, but similar to acting, Anderson did not find as much success.

Hans Christian Anderson: Fairytale Author

The Little Mermaid - Wikipedia
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Anderson’s first set of fairytales came out between 1835 and 1837, and contained stories such as The Princess and the Pea, The Tinderbox, and Little Claus and Big Claus. His writing style changed the 19th century literary game, and Anderson was thrown into the public eye for his use of spoken language and idioms.

Anderson later published sets of fairy tales that would contain other famous stories we know and love, such as Thumbelina (adapted into an animated Warner Bros. musical and a Barbie movie!), The Little Match Girl, and The Emperor’s New Clothes. Folk tales, narrative poetry, and older childhood stories inspired a lot of Anderson’s own fairytales. In his writing and publishing of The Little Mermaid in 1837, he gained international recognition for his stories. Wealthy and affluent families and figures throughout Europe sponsored Anderson’s writings, allowing him to rise from poor social standing to traveling and documenting his journeys in travelogues.

The Snow Queen (With Original Illustrations) - Kindle edition by Andersen, Hans  Christian, Pedersen, Vilhelm, Paull, H.B.. Children Kindle eBooks @  Amazon.com.
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Although many of his tales had dark themes and contained tragic endings, others contained themes of the persistence of goodness, such as The Snow Queen (1844). Anderson’s writing appealed to not only children but also adults, due to his imagination and appeal to emotions that do not only apply to kids. He combined well-known folk tales and stories around the world with his own gift of story-telling to create fairytales that resonated with all ages.

Andersen in 1869
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Additionally, Anderson’s poor social background allowed him to create characters that stood out as outcasts and made them stronger, more tragic protagonists for audiences to connect with, such as with The Ugly Duckling (1843).

Legacy of Hans Christian Anderson

Despite living in the 19th century, Hans Christian Anderson is still a relevant figure today in regard to childhood literature. We may see his works in libraries, bedtime stories, and of course, the various stories and adaptations based on his work as children.

The Little Mermaid (1989) - IMDb
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One of the biggest parts of his legacy lies in the Disney Princess franchise, which encompasses a major part of modern childhoods today. Specifically, from classics such as “The Little Mermaid” (1989) and “Frozen” (2013), which are based on his own The Little Mermaid (duh!) and The Snow Queen, respectively. His fairytales are remarkably darker than their Disney-fied versions, for obvious reasons, but it’s clear this his contribution to literature still lives on today! Even today, there are adaptations based off his writing, such as with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” spin-off shows and movies a few decades ago. Most recently, we had “Frozen 2”, an extension of the “Frozen” franchise and his Snow Queen fairytale!

Frozen (2013) - IMDb
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More than just adaptations of his works, Anderson influenced later more children’s classics due to his writing techniques, such as The Wind in the Willows (1908), Winnie the Pooh (1926), and Alice in Wonderland (1865)- all of which are also products of Disney. If you think about it, Disney would not have been the powerhouse it is today if it wasn’t for the literary influence of Anderson.

Happy birthday, Hans Christian Anderson! We’ll think of you the next time a new “Frozen” movie comes out!

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