Hans Christian Andersen , the much-loved Danish author of some of the world’s best loved fairy tales  was born on  2 April 1805 in Odense, Denmark. The author who wrote such delightful and memorable stories  including  The Little Mermaid and  the Ugly Duckling died on 4 August 1875.

Andersen sits overlooking a busy Copenhagen street

Hans Christian Andersen brought to life some of the world's favorite fairy tales. These include The Little Mermaid, the Ugly Duckling, the Little Match Seller, the Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina and the Emperor’s New Suit.

His writings are thought provoking and poignant  too. Here are some extracts from some of his well known stories.

The Little Match Seller

“The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.”

The Little Mermaid

There is a statue of The Little Mermaid in the Copenhagen harbour which has become a national symbol in Denmark. The Mermaid sits looking longingly out into the sea waiting for her Prince Charming to come and get her. Here is a paragraph from The Little Mermaid.

“The little mermaid lifted her glorified eyes towards the sun, and felt them, for the first time, filling with tears. On the ship, in which she had left the prince, there were life and noise; she saw him and his beautiful bride searching for her; sorrowfully they gazed at the pearly foam, as if they knew she had thrown herself into the waves. Unseen she kissed the forehead of her bride, and fanned the prince, and then mounted with the other children of the air to a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.”

The statue of The Little Mermaid sits on a rock in the Copenhagen harbour.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

The Emperor’s New Clothes has become a story that has a lot of political undertones. It’s a story that exposes the blindness of rulers all over the world who live in a vacuum, detached from the citizenry. Here‘s a telling paragraph from that story.

“The emperor marched in the procession under the beautiful canopy, and all who saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: “Indeed, the emperor’s new suit is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!” Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never emperor’s clothes were more admired.”

“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people.”

He sits with book in hand

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling is a story that gives hope of those of us who are far from perfect.

“Then he felt quite ashamed and hid his head under his wing; for he did not know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He had been persecuted and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and bright. Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”

HCA’s writings show us the genius of the man whose stories remain household names in lands across the world.