Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

From Denmark Round the World

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was a Danish author who is probably best remembered for his fairy tales. He was a prolific writer of plays, novels and poems, as well. But it is his fairy tales, that have become embedded in the our minds here in the US. His stories, such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen,” and “The Ugly Duckling,” have inspired plays, novels, ballets and animated films.

from The Little Mermaid

from The Little Mermaid

Born in Denmark, his life was surrounded by rumors that he may have been the illegitimate son of King Christian VIII. He was first introduced to literature by his father reading him Arabian Nights. In his early teens, he worked with the Royal Danish Theater until his voice changed, at which point, he focused on writing.

from Thumbelina

from Thumbelina

His first attempts at fairy tales were revisions of tales he had heard as a child. He went on to write a large number of tales that were original. His first collection of fairy tales was published in 1835. Some popular favorites first appeared here – “The Tinderbox,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” His 1838 collection included “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” and “The Wild Swans.” He continued to publish fairy tales until 1872.

from The Tinderbox

from The Tinderbox

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is given biennially to an author and illustrator who have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. Past winners include Maurice Sendak, Katherine Patterson and Astrid Lindgren. His birthday, April 2nd, is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.

Some believe that his stories laid the groundwork for future authors by making inanimate objects come to life.

from The Princess and the Pea

from The Princess and the Pea

To learn more about his life you can read The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography, or watch Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale.

Or, you can relive your childhood and pick up a copy of Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories.

Some of my favorite Hans Christian Andersen-inspired novels are:
The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf by Kathryn Davis
The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge
The Snow Queen by Eileen Kernaghan
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

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