Today is the birthday of Hans Cristian Andersen, the famous Danish writer who is best remembered for his fairytales. Happy birthday, Andersen! If Andersen were alive, he would be turning 215 years old! Through the years, he has remained known as a prolific writer of plays, novels, poems, and more. Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark and was an only child. His father considered himself related to nobility, but these speculations have since been questioned. His father was the one who introduced him to literature, but he died during Andersen’s childhood. He was left with his mother, an illiterate washerwoman, and her new husband. Andersen went on to receive a rudimentary education but soon moved into a working apprenticeship to support himself. He moved to Copenhagen where he became an actor until his voice’s pitch lowered, and he was no longer wanted. When a fellow actor told him he considered him a poet, Andersen took it seriously and began to pursue writing.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON
Soon, Andersen was beginning his journey in writing that would grant him long-lasting success. This success, of course, wasn’t immediate. His first stories were met with some recognition, but it wasn’t until 1833 that he received a grant to travel across Europe. Yet, even then, the quality of his fairytales was not recognized. His first attempts were re-tellings of tales that he had heard as a child. His original works were first released in 1835, but they were met with poor sales. He persisted throughout the next ten years and experienced a breakthrough in 1845 when his work, “The Little Mermaid,” was translated. Andersen’s work after this was eagerly received. He would continue to publish fairytales until his death.
Hans Christian Andersen is one of the reasons our literary world is able to be filled with such wonder. Without his persistence throughout his career, many of our childhood tales would evaporate; true magic, more real than that of any fairytale, would have never been able to shine its light on readers for centuries.
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The Little Mermaid is getting the live reboot so many other Disney classics have seen over the years, like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. This one in particular, however, is causing some controversy with the casting of Halle Bailey, R&B singer, as Ariel. I wonder if everyone so upset with the casting knows the roots of the story. It isn’t just a sweet fairy tale where the princess falls in love with a prince and everyone lives happily ever after. The original tale written in 1837 is much darker and has a deeper connection with Hans Christian Andersen’s life.
Before penning The Little Mermaid, Andersen had fallen in love with a man of much higher class, Edvard Collin. Andersen was attracted to both men and women according to many biography writers, but he was pining for this one man in particular. Collin never returned Andersen’s affections, actually bothered by the special attention that Andersen had paid him and one of his sisters. Collin ended up marrying a woman, and it broke Andersen’s heart. The Little Mermaid became his love letter to Collin.
image via heroic hollywood
In fact, Andersen’s story and that of Ariel are actually quite similar, both tales of unrequited love. Like Andersen, Ariel falls in love with a prince, but she is a mermaid and can’t just walk up to him and tell him. She has no legs! So she sells her voice to a sea witch in exchange for legs and the ability to walk on land to get the prince to fall in love with her. In both Andersen’s original story and Disney’s animated version, the prince does love another woman. In the Disney tale, it is the sea witch, Ursula, who is overcome by Ariel and her animal friends. Ariel gets her prince in the end. In the original tale, the other woman is just another woman. With no voice to express her feelings, something highly symbolic of Andersen’s situation, the prince marries someone else. Ariel, distraught, cries so much she turns into sea foam.
Happy birthday Hans Christian Andersen! The Danish author was a writer of plays, poems, and short stories but he is best remembered today for his collection of fairy tales, of which he wrote over 3381. Famous fairy tales he have wrote you should be familiar with:The Little Mermaid,The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, and Thumbelina.However, he wrote many more beyond those and they’ve sadly faded from the public eye. Here at five of Andersen’s more obscure fairy stale, all strange and wonderful.
5. ‘On the Last Day’
Image Via Pininterest
On the Last Day is a dark and surreal story about what one man witnesses after death. As the man follows Death into the afterlife, he witnesses strange and dream-like events. These include: a masquerade ball where animals poke out from beneath people’s clothing, black birds screaming at the man as he walks, and stones that cut his feet no matter where he runs. Eventually, the man figures out he is being punished for his wicked deeds in life and is shown forgiveness, allowed into the gates of Heaven.
4. ‘The Tinderbox’
Image Via Hans Christian Andersen.com
In this story, a solider runs across an old witch as he returns home from war. The witch tells if he climbs a tree he will be rich, which he does and finds three chests guard by three different dogs. The witch gives him an apron for each dog and tells him if he places the dogs upon it, he will be able to pass by without being attacked. The soldier succeeds and finds a tinderbox among the chests. The witch refuses to tell him what it’s for and the soldier kills her. He lives in luxury for sometime with the riches in the chests, until his money runs out. The soldier strikes the tinderbox in frustration and discovers he can summon the dogs with it to do his bidding.
He uses the dogs to kidnap the princess but the queen finds out and sentences him to the gallows. Before being hanged, the soldier uses an excuse for a smoke to strike the tinderbox three times and the dogs appear, massacring the queen’s men. The soldier is proclaimed the new king and a feast ensues, the solider lording over his new position as his loyal dogs watch the kingdom’s people warningly.
3. ‘The Wicked Prince’
The Wicked Prince tells of a titular evil and selfish prince who is so bent on conquering the world that he turns to great evil to accomplish his dream. He sends out his army across the world, as they ravage everything in their path, destroying cities, villages, homes, everything in their way. The prince absorbs kingdoms into his empire and attains so much wealth and glory that he becomes master of the world. But he still isn’t satisfied and decides to conquer Heaven itself. He builds a giant ship, which is pulled by hundreds of eagles and flies toward the sun.
An angel appears and the prince opens fire on it but the bullets deflect and one drop of the angel’s blood smashes a hole in the ship, sending it crashing into the forest. The prince survives and builds a new army of ships but the angels send a swarm of gnats against him. The gnat bites his ear and the pain drives the prince mad. He goes insane and is mocked by his own men, the great prince conquered by an insect.
2. ‘The Garden of Paradise’
Image Via American literature
A prince gets caught in a storm and takes shelter in a cavern. Inside, he finds a woman so strong and large she resembles a man. Her daughters arrive, pulled along by the Four Winds. The East Wind takes the prince to the Garden of Paradise, where a fairy tells the prince that she may not be touched. But he will be allowed to live there for 100 years if he resists the temptation to kiss her.
On the very first night, the fairy tempts the man and he realizes an eternity of suffering is worth a moment of bliss, he gives in and kisses her. The prince returns to Earth, now condemned to wander forever to atone for his sin.
1. ‘The Traveling Companion’
Image Via Hans Christian Anderson.com
This tale tells the story of a young wandering the world after his father has passed away. The man meets a mysterious stranger who becomes his traveling companion and they have a number of adventures together. Eventually, he sees the most beautiful princess in the world and falls in love with her, despite the little fact that she’s a complete psychotic murderer. If he fails to tell her what she’s thinking in three days, the princess will kill him. The prince goes through many trials to give her heart but manages to eventually tell her what she’s thinking of: a severed head! The prince is then instructed of how to cure her evil curse that makes her psychotic by his traveling companion and lives happily ever after with his new wife.
What are some of your favorite Hans Christian Andersen stories? Let us know! And happy birthday again to Andersen!