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Historical figure: Hans Christian Andersen


I want to introduce to you guys a new kind of attribute if you like to my blog 'Historical Figures'. As I have mainly focused this blog on books, I figured that I could introduce my favourite authors too to which many of them are sadly in a better place.

With this particular blog entry I'm going to incorporate not only one of my favourite authors but actor and film too, are you puzzled by this? Let me explain!

As you're most likely presuming right now, Hans Christian Andersen was my favourite childhood author. If you're not familiar with Anderson, I am more than happy to give you a little introduction of who he was and why I admire him so.

Andersen was a Danish poet and story-teller and is remembered best for his class fairy tales. Hans was born in the town of Odense, Denmark on Tuesday 2nd of April 1805 and was an only child.

Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages are culturally embedded more so in the West. His most famous fairy tales (which I'm sure many of you have heard of) include "The Little Mermaid", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Nightingale", "Thumberlina", "The Princess and the Pea", "The Tinderbox" and many more! These stories have inspired ballets, theatre productions, and animated films.

Hans' initial attempts to write fairy tales were revised stories that he had heard as a child, he brought the genre to a new level by writing fairy tales that were both bold and original.

In June 1847 he paid his first visit to England where he attended parties to meet intellectual figures, one in particular he was a great admirer of was none of than Charles Dickens himself. Both authors respected each other's work and had something important in common as writers. Depictions of the poor and underclass who had difficult lives affected by the Industrial Revolution and poverty. In the Victorian era there was a growing sympathy towards the innocence of childhood.

Referring to Andersen's personal life, his journal records his refusal to have sexual relations, he often fell in love with unattainable women and many of his stories are interpreted as references. It was thought that Andersen may also have had interests in the same sex as well but did not result in any relationships.

In the Spring of 1872, Andersen was said to have fallen out of his bed and was severely hurt, never recovering. Afterwards he started to show signs of liver cancer and died on August 4th 1875 in a house near Copenhagen.

Hans' legacy continues, his stories had opened up a new window for other children's classics like Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne. The technique of making inanimate objects such as toys, come to life would be used by Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter of whom are also my other treasured authors I will forever love.

Today he is still a much loved figure in Denmark and I believe his stories will continue to give happiness to children all over the world as they had given me.

Oops, so I may have got a little carried away telling you about Hans Christian Andersen, but it leads onto my much loved childhood film that I used to watch over and over again at my Granny's house many years ago...

Hans Christian Andersen the film. Now I want to point out, this story is not a recollection or biography of Andersen's life. It is a fairy tale about his great talent of writing and story-telling.

A large part of the film is concentrated around Andersen's most famous stories such as; The Ugly Ducking, Thumberlina, The Emperor's New Clothes, and The Little Mermaid...

The charismatic and just wonderful actor Danny Kaye plays Andersen in this film, not only does he reflect Andersen's enchanting story-telling but he also captivates his luck with women.

The story (as pointed out not true to Andersen's life) unfolds where Andersen is a cobbler (shoe maker) whom consistently keeps the local children in town in Denmark from school because of him telling them his stories along the river bank. Peter, an orphan boy fostered by Andersen persuades Hans to go to Copenhagen to make better business of being a cobble.

Here, Andersen falls in love with a ballerina who at no surprise is unattainable.

I really cannot tell you what a delight this film is, I continue to watch it whenever I have a day to myself with no one to disturb. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and looking forward to going to see my Granny just so I could watch this film. It has some beautiful catchy songs within it, its not as extreme as being classed as a musical but it definitely gets you singing along. Kaye, like I said earlier was a fantastic actor and he puts a huge smile on my face. I don't want to go into Danny Kaye's career as I'm sure my "brief" introduction of Andersen may have exhausted you, but just know that he was a fantastic and well loved actor and comedian!

Not surprising, but this film was made in 1952 so yes maybe a little rusty but just full of character! If you love old films and fairy tales, I don't see why you would not enjoy this wonderful film :)

As always thank you for reading and take care.

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