March 31, 2016
This Saturday marks the 211th birthday of celebrated Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). Widely considered the most famous Dane, his accomplishments in children’s literature have left a lasting legacy that still reverberates immensely today.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, H.C. Andersen’s short stories and eventyr (fairytales). have inspired much of our lives. There was the very popular (at the time) Hans Christian Andersen (1952) musical starring American actor, singer, dancer, comedian and musician Danny Kaye. If you were a child of the eighties you most likely remember when Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Emperor’s New Groove came out for the first time. The Princess and the Pea and The Ugly Duckling are stories nearly everyone knows, as is the case for many of the other 166 fairy tales and stories he wrote in his lifetime, which today can be found translated into 150 languages, an example of his global admiration.
Born in Odense, Denmark in 1805, H.C. (as he was known to friends such as Charles Dickens and Beatrix Potter later in life) struggled with loneliness, sadness, poverty and prejudice for many, many years. However, his vivid imagination and confidence led him to eventual wealth and success because of his strong belief in himself and his dreams. Many of these issues being common themes in his captivating and inspiring stories, and perhaps this is why they are so timeless, inventive and everlasting, for all ages. His stories encourage adults to discover their inner child and inspire children to dream and imagine to their hearts content.
At thirty-three the King of Denmark awarded him a life stipend for his immeasurable talents. By 1845, his folktales and stories were being translated into English and published in America, even before his home country of Denmark. Shortly before his death in 1875, he was honored in England as the greatest living author.
Today there are many programs and organizations working to continue Andersen’s legacy of love for children’s literature. The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is one such non-profit founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 1953. Since 1956 the IBBY has bestowed The Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition given to authors and illustrators of children’s books, to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The Patron of the Andersen Awards is Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Each year on April 2nd The IBBY also celebrates International Children’s Book Day to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.
This week from California to New York to Denmark, and everywhere in between, people all over the world will be paying homage to one of the greatest children’s writers of all time. Children young and old continue to connect through the enchanting stories he has created, and through this he continues to be the pride of his country and beloved all over the world. Explore more about him on Pinterest.
Tillykke med fødselsdagen (Happy Birthday), Hans Christian Andersen!
What is your most cherished children’s book? I’d love to hear it, leave a comment for me below!
Coasters For A Cause at Six Flags Great America — May 14 or 15 – Special discounted rate tickets of $32 are available and a portion of the sales will go to The Danish Home. To order tickets, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica and enter the promo code DANISHHOME into the upper right hand corner. Follow this link to find out more: https://danishhomeofchicago.org/the-hope-chest/the-hope-chest2/upcoming-events/