Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy birthday, Hans Christian Andersen

It is the birthday of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805), whose fairy tales have delighted children and adults for generations. He wrote more than 150 stories, many of which have become part of the collective consciousness of western culture. Among his best-known stories are The Princess and the Pea (1835), Thumbelina (1835), The Little Mermaid (1836), The Emperor's New Clothes (1837), The Ugly Duckling (1844), The Little Match Girl (1848), and The Ice-Maiden(1861). He was an only child, and he never married, though he fell madly in love on numerous occasions. They were always unattainable matches. Once he proposed to Jenny Lind, the Swedish opera star. She thought of him as a brother and told him so in a heartbreaking letter. He wrote his story The Nightingale (1843) for her, and it inspired her nickname the Swedish Nightingale.

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