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Hans Christian Andersen

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Andersen, Hans Christian I Andersen l, 1805-1875, Danish author. Poorly educated; according to some of his European contemporaries spoke no language correctly. Achieved first important literary success with his Improvisatoren, 1835; in same year appeared earliest instalment of his fairy tales. From the Continent, his reputation spread to England; hailed there in the mid-1840s as an exciting literary discovery. 

      Andersen was an enthusiastic worshipper of Dickens; Dickens, in his letters to Andersen, expressed admiration of Andersen's writings. Andersen met Dickens on a visit to England in 1847. He dedicated to him A Christmas Greeting to My English Friends, 1847; A Poet's Day Dreams, 1853; and the English edition (1857) of To Be, or Not to Be?. In 1857 he was Dickens's guest at Gad's Hill. In 1860 he published in a Danish periodical an account of the visit; it did not appear in English translation until after Dickens's death. In Aug. 1860, however, Bentley's Misc. published a review of Andersen's account of the visit, based, as Bredsdorff (Hans Andersen and Charles Dickens, pp. 131-32) makes clear, on a translation of the account included in a German collection of some of Andersen's tales and sketches. Titled "A Visit to Charles Dickens by Hans Christian Andersen," the Bentley article recorded Andersen's praise of Mrs. Dickens and his depiction of the happy family life at Gad's Hill. Dickens can hardly have missed seeing the article. It would, as Bredsdorff states, have provided Dickens with what would have been to him a valid reason for breaking off his friendship with Andersen, though, as a matter of fact, he seems not to have written to Andersen after 1857. Andersen wrote to Dickens several times after 1857 (letters of introduction for friends, probably also personal letters) and had a picture of himself and a copy of one of his books sent to him. Receiving no acknowledgment of the letters or the gifts, he finally ceased his attempt to keep in contact with Dickens, though he continued to speak of him with affection and admiration. The death of "my dear Dickens," he wrote to friends, filled him with sorrow.
      The Office Book records no payment for "[Chip:] The World's Fairest Rose," [V, 610. Sept. 11, 1852] nor does it indicate through whose agency the item arrived at the editorial office. It was, of course, not sent by Andersen, for whose stories and sketches Bentley's Misc. was the English repository. Moreover, from the summer of 1851 to the summer of 1856, no correspondence is known to have passed between Andersen and Dickens (Bredsdorff, p. 39). The story, titled "Verdens deiligste Rose," was published in Copenhagen, first, apparently, in a Folkekalender for 1852 (brought out prob. Dec. 1851), then, in April 1852, in Historier af H. C. Andersen by the Copenhagen publisher C. A. Reitzel (information from Universitetsbiblioteket, Copenhagen). Under the title "The World's Most Beautiful Rose," it was included in A Poet's Day Dreams, published by Bentley, Feb. 28, 1853. Obviously, neither Andersen nor Bentley was aware that one of the stories in the new English collection had appeared (in a variant translation) in an English periodical some five months before. 
      In H.W., praise of Andersen's stories for children appeared in "A Witch in the Nursery," and mention of his tales in "The School of the Fairies"; a brief reference to Andersen appeared in "Strings of Proverbs" (Feb. 28, 1852). In A.Y.R., Wilkie Collins's "The Bachelor Bedroom," Aug. 6, 1859, contained a ludicrous depiction of Andersen (see Lohrli, "Andersen, Dickens, and 'Herr von Müffe,''' Dickensian, Winter 1966). 
      In the Office Book, Andersen is recorded as author of "The Cup and the Lip," Sept. 4, 1852; his name is marked out and substituted by that of Leigh Hunt. 
                                                          Ency. Brit.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971. 

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