You may have heard of Hans Christian Andersen and even own copies of some of his stories, but what is so significant about the H. C. Andersen fairy tales? How did they come to be? Let me share with you a bit about the life and legend who wrote so many classic tales.
His Early Years: Hardships of a Young Boy
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Denmark 2 April 1805. He later became an acclaimed author of fairy tales as well as poetry, novels, and travel tales, but he is best known for his fairy tales, which have been translated into over 125 languages. His fairy tales include “The Emperors New Clothes”, “The Ugly Duckling”,”The Little Mermaid”, “Thumbelina”, and more.  But let us back up a bit.
After Andersen’s father died, he was sent to a local school for poor young children, and his mother, poor and uneducated, had to work as a washerwoman.  Young Hans was sent to a local school for poor children, and had to find work as an apprenticed weaver and later as a tailor in order to support himself. He was abused by the schoolmaster while a pupil there. Oh, what hardships children of his day endured (Reminds me of Dickens, who was a contemporary of Andersen; he wrote many works including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby and others as an outcry against the ill treatment of boys and all children.) When he was 14, Andersen sought employment as an actor, and, possessing a beautiful soprano voice, he was accepted into the the Royal Danish Theatre to sing on stage. While a performer there, an associate of his told Andersen that he thought him a promising poet. It was then that Andersen began focusing on writing.  How true it is in our lives that others do influence us and cause us to look at ourselves in ways we might not have otherwise!
On to Writing
The publication of “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager” is what first gave Andersen literary recognition. Then he traveled and wrote travelogues.  Traveling, I believe, gave him inspiration for writing. [mine] He acquired a money grant from the king, enabling him to travel across Europe and write. He wrote a novel during this time entitled The Improvisatore, which is based on his travels in Italy. It was after this that Andersen began focusing on writing stories, particularly fairy tales. 
His Early Collection–Some of Our Favorites!
In 1837, Andersen published his first collection of stories, though he had done some writing in 1835. This first collection included “The Tinderbox”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “Thumbelina”, “The Little Mermaid”, and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” They did not sell well.  Interestingly, today they are among some of the most popular of his tales. He continued writing fairy tales for over 30 years and completed over 100 of them!
Andersen Meets Dickens
Andersen traveled to England in 1847. There the Countess of Blessington invited him to her parties. At one of these parties, he met Charles Dickens. Andersen wrote in his diary: “. . . I was so happy to see and speak with England’s now living writer, whom I love the most.” Both Dickens and Andersen had great respect for the works the other was creating. Both authors wrote about similar themes of the outcast poor of the underclass who endured the hardness of life during the Industrial Revolution.
Where Is Love?
Andersen reflected much upon God and cried out to God most earnestly, most likely because of the lack of love he experienced in his life. He said, “Almighty God, thee only have I; thou steerest my fate, I must give myself up to thee! Give me a livelihood! Give me a bride! My blood wants love as my heart does!”  One can see the struggle of his unrequited love by reading some of his fairy tales that possess such a theme. Over and over again there is a boy or girl coming of age who experiences great emotional pain from the lack of requited love. Some of these tales have very sad endings. They are tales of life. Though fairy tales, they possess a reality—the reality that life is hard, that people experience great suffering and tribulation, that things don’t always end up “happily ever after.” Some of his tales are quite happy though and also teach practical lessons of life. It was in the spring of 1872 that Andersen fell out of his bed, and, soon afterwards, showed signs of liver cancer.  He died 4 August 1875 in Copenhagen. Today he is considered Denmark’s “national treasure” for his contribution to literature. 
Hans Christian Andersen left such a legacy for the world. He left much for boys, girls, and adults alike. There is such a charm about his writing too; but unlike the Grimm Brothers, he wrote all of these tales himself. There are roughly 100 different tales he wrote, and he was an amazing storyteller. Imagine being a boy or girl during his lifetime and meeting him on the road. Perhaps there are other boys or girls with you, and he asks you to have a seat at the banks of a nearby pond. You take your seat and he begins to tell you one of his tales. You are completely captivated, and you immediately like him. As he tells his tale, he pulls out some paper and a pair of scissors and begins clipping away. By the end of the story, he has created an illustration to go along with the story. They are called paper dolls. Perhaps it was the story of the Ugly Duckling he told you, and at the end of the story, you behold a beautiful cutout of a swan he created as he told you the fairy tale. Nice touch, wouldn’t you say?
Yes, Hans Christian Andersen gave the world beautiful classic fairy tales,
but he also gave us his story—a story of travels, a story of
unrequited love, a story of perseverance, and a story of love for
children and all people. What an example and inspiration for us
1.Rossel, Steven Hakon (1996). Hans Christian Andersen : Danish Writer and Citizen of the World. Rodopi. ISBN 90-5183-955-8.
2.Wenande, Christian (13 December 2012). “Unknown Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Discovered”. The Copenhagen Post.
3.Bredsdorff, Elias (1975). Hans Christian Andersen: the Story of His Life and Work 1805-18975. Phaidon. ISBN 0-7148-1636-1.
4.Rossel 1996, p. 7
6.Only a Fiddler. from archive.org
7.“H. C. Andersen and Charles Dickens 1875” Hcandersen-homepage.dk.
8.“The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen”. Scandinavian.wisc.edu.
9.Bryan, Mark Private Lives, 2001, p.12