Thanks to his fairy tales and stories, Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-75, is probably the most widely read author in the world today, but even in his own time was read and known from Russia in the east to América in the west.
Hans Christian Andersen's career developed from the lowest stratum of society in his native town of Odense in Funen via his problematic adaptation to the official and bourgeois circles in Copenhagen and further still until he became a familiar guest in the country mansions of Denmark, the palaces of kings and princes and the entire cultural stage of Europe provided Hans Christian Andersen with material for many of his works and for no fewer than three autobiographies, the final version being Mit Livs Eventyr (1855, The Fairy Tale of My Life (with later supplements)).
Modern editions of Hans Christians Andersen's correspondence and diaries have produced an unusually comprehensive insight into his life and his complex personality.
Hans Christian Andersens fairy tales and stories (about 190 in all, written 1835-72) are addressed to both adults and children and are stylistically and thematically deeply original. In addition he wrote novels, travel accounts (he spent a large part of his life travelling abroad), poems and works for the theatre (including libretti for operas and ballad operas).
Although Hans Christian Andersen's work has its roots in Romanticism he is a modern spirit thanks to his social experience, his psychological insight, his belief in progress and industrial development. The special quality in his fairy tales is also precisely the combination of poetry, fantasy tale and everyday reality.
Johan de Mylius, Gyldendal Leksikon