Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish author, born in Odense, April 2, 1805. His father was a shoemaker in needy circumstances, but possessing literary taste. Andersen's scanty education was chiefly acquired at a charity school. At nine years of age he lost his father, and shortly afterward was taken into the house of the widow of a clergyman, where he was engaged to read aloud to the family. After a short sojourn in a manufactory, where he was ill-treated by the workmen, whom he had amused by singing and reciting to them passages from Holberg, he returned home, and for a while led an inactive life. He possessed an agreeable voice, and his mother was advised to send him to the theatre. She determined, however, to make a tailor of him, but before his apprenticeship commenced he obtained permission to go to Copenhagen and witness the performance of a play. Accordingly, in 1819 he found himself in that city with 10 rix dollars in his pocket, and sought to get an engagement at the theatre in some humble capacity. He was rejected on account of his awkwardness and ignorance, but soon afterward presented himself to Professor Siboni, director of the royal conservatory, who received him with kindness, and caused him to be instructed as a singer for the stage.

At the end of half a year his voice, which was in the transition state, failed him. He then applied for assistance to the poet Guldberg, the brother of a former patron in Odense, by whose aid he was enabled to struggle on for a few years, sometimes employed in the theatre and sometimes studying. During this period he wrote some tragedies which excited the attention of Oehlenschlager and others, but which he was unable to have produced upon the stage. Councillor Collin, a benevolent and clear-sighted man, having become director of the theatre, procured his admission free of expense into one of the government schools. This was the turning point in Andersen's life; he embarked in this new career with enthusiasm, was admitted into the royal college of Copenhagen, and while completing his studies there produced in 1829 his first work in print, entitled " A Journey on Foot to Amak," which was received with extraordinary favor, and gained him the acquaintance of some of the most influential people in Copenhagen. Some volumes of poems which succeeded increased his reputation.

Oehlenschlager, Ingemann, and other friends having procured a royal stipend to enable him to travel, in 1833 he visited Italy, his impressions of which he has recorded in his novel, "The Improvisatore," which stands unrivalled as a picture of scenery and manners in southern Europe; and he has since travelled extensively throughout Europe and the East. His next novel, " O. T.," describes life in the north, and " Only a Fiddler " some of the most striking scenes in his early struggles. Among his other works are "Fairy Tales," "Picture Book with-out Pictures," " Travels in the Hartz Mountains," "A Poet's Bazaar," "Ahasuerus," "New Fairy Tales," and some volumes of poetry, dramas, fairy comedies, and texts for operas. In 1846 he visited England, where he made many friends, and in 1849 wrote one of his longest works, "The Two Baronesses," in the English language. His works reflect his own kindly and open disposition, and are marked by humor, invention, and a poet's enthusiasm. His fairy tales for children have been read with delight in every modern language.

He is also an admirable public reader of his own works, enjoying in this respect in Denmark a fame equal to that of Dickens in England and America. In 1845 he received a royal annuity which placed him in comfortable circumstances for the remainder of his life. The series of translations from his works by Mary Howitt and others has introduced him to a large circle of admirers in England and America. The first complete edition of his works in English was published in 1870-'71 in New York, in 10 vols. 8vo, including "The Story of My Life," an autobiography.