“Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers.” – Hans Christian Andersen
Born in Odense, Denmark on this date in 1805, Andersen was first introduced to the wonderful world of fairy tales by his poor and under-educated father who still found time almost daily to read to his young son – especially from 1001 Arabian Nights. "Being read to by a parent” led Andersen to a lifelong love of both reading and fairy tales and the rest of the world became the beneficiary.
After singing as a child in the Royal Danish Theatre, Andersen turned to writing when his voice began to change, first working on theatrical pieces and then switching to fairy tales. His first efforts were adaptations from tales he had heard as a child and before discovering the magical worlds in his own imagination.
The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl and The Emperor’s New Clothes are just a few of the many famous fairy tales that came from the pen of this prolific and imaginative author. His stories – translated into more than 125 languages and shared worldwide – have inspired plays, ballets and both live-action and animated films.
Since 1956 (for stories) and 1966 (for illustration), the International Board on Books for Young People has honored Andersen’s memory by presenting the Hans Christian Andersen Award to an author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature. “Life itself,” Andersen wrote shortly before his death in 1875, “is and has been a most wonderful fairy tale.”
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