Hans Christian Anderson is best known for his more than 150 fairy stories and other tales that he wrote for children. Many of his stories - which include, The Little Mermaid, The Princess on the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Nightingale - became classics of children's literature, loved and read the world over.
Anderson was born and grew up in Odense, in Denmark. His father was a poor shoemaker who, despite the lack of a formal education, loved literature. He would read aloud from The Arabian Nights and La Fontaine to the young Hans, inculcating in him a love for such tales. He also introduced him to the works of Danish dramatists, and fostered in him a love for the theatre and the stage.
Anderson was eleven years old when his father died. To help his mother support the family, he had to leave school and find work in the local factories. However, he had a good singing voice, and soon managed to obtain small parts in the local theatre. He wished to make a career for himself on the stage, and, unwilling to learn a more practical trade, he decided to take all his savings and move to Copenhagen. He was fourteen years old at this time.
He knew no one in Copenhagen, but managed to find his way into the house of the director of the Royal Theatre and impress him and his dinner guests enough for them to raise a subscription to support him while he was taught music. He also managed small parts at the Royal theatre. Three years later his voice broke, and he could no longer work.
Hans Christian Andersen cont'd...