Interior: Little Mermaid
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Hans Christian Andersen Hagiography
Renowned author of plays, novels, and, most notably, fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen was born in 1805 in Odense, Denmark to a poor cobbler and his washerwoman wife. Formal education and various apprenticeships held no charm for the imaginative, romantic, passionate boy who dreamed of being an actor, singer, dancer, or, failing that, a writer for the theater. At age 14, Andersen set out on his own to Copenhagen to immerse himself in the theater. Dressed in shabby rags and half-starved, he was ridiculed by all whose doors he knocked on. Andersen's vibrancy, articulateness, and tenacity proved to be enough to eventually win him over to the wealthy and powerful of Copenhagen. His success as a performer in the theater proved to be elusive, but he did become a writer of talent. Andersen published stories, novels, plays, and travel books. In 1835, awaiting the printing of his latest novel, he wrote four children's fairy tales to pay the rent. These four were the first of the 164 to follow. Immensely popular all over the Western world, his tales were translated into every European language as fast he wrote them. "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Little Mermaid," and "The Red Shoes" are among his most enduring works. By all accounts a writer who touched on sophisticated themes and ideas, Andersen's fairy tales entertained and instructed young and old alike. Andersen never married but dined and visited with friends nearly every night of the week. He was extremely fond of traveling and took two especially long trips to England and Scotland. Andersen suffered a bad fall in 1872 that was the beginning of his declining health. He died peacefully in 1875 at the home of friends in the country.