Hans Christian Andersen was a great writer of fairy tales. His life was like one of his own stories, with sadness and humour and a happy ending-just what happened to the ugly duckling that turned out to be a swan. Hans Christian Andersen was born in the little town of Odense, in Denmark, about 150 years ago (in 1805). His father was a poor shoemaker. Hans was a homely boy, not bright at school, and the other boys made fun of him. But he loved to read, and to listen to folk tales and songs, and he had an excellent memory.
When Hans’s father died, he was only 11 years old. When he was 14 he set out for Copenhagen, the biggest city in Denmark, to make his fortune. There he was often hungry and homeless. He wanted to be an actor, and could not find a job acting. But he got a scholarship given by King Frederick VI of Denmark, and was able to go back to school and to the University. Then he wrote travel books, plays, novels, and poetry. But his fairy tales, based on childhood memories, were what made him famous. He wrote them just as he might have spoken them, simply and directly. Boys and girls everywhere know them, for they have been translated into many languages. The Princess and the Pen, Thumbelina, The Snow Queen, The Sili er Shilling, are a few of the many he wrote.
His stories about “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Ugly Duckling” are probably the most famous. When Hans Christian Andersen died at the age of 70 (in 1875), he was honoured and loved all over the world.