“Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead.”
~ Hans Christian Andersen ~
Some of my favorite childhood stories were written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish writer, who was born in 1805. ” The Ugly Duckling,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “The Little Mermaid” are some of the most famous. I also loved “The Princess and the Pea” and “Thumbelina.” On a recent plane ride home from Copenhagen, my husband and I thought of “The Princess and the Pea” when we heard a passenger endlessly complaining to a flight attendant. And think of the many pompous and narcissistic politicians and other leaders who have been described as being like the emperor whose imaginary new clothes are fawned over by courtiers, even though the emperor was naked.
Andersen is celebrated throughout the world and is especially beloved in Copenhagen. Statues and plaques dedicated to Andersen can be found throughout Copenhagen, including the gardens of Rosenborg Castle. April 2, Andersen’s birthday, is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day. A statue of “The Little Mermaid,” based on Andersen’s story, sits on a rock in the Copenhagen harbor.
Andersen was much loved and appreciated, but his personal relationships didn’t always go so well. For example, he forged a friendship with the celebrated British writer Charles Dickens, although his second visit to the Dickens home didn’t end well. Hans Christian Andersen Wasn’t the Best Houseguest.