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Hans Christian Andersen - Events in Yorkshire

This virtual exhibition was created to accompany a display in the Library's galleries between 20 May and 2 October 2005. The following events took place during that period.

The British Library and Leeds Libraries celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen.

Hans Christian Andersen: his life and stories

8 June – 27 July 2005
Leeds Central Library, The Headrow, Leeds
Admission free

Opening hours:

Monday 9.00 - 20.00
Tuesday 9.00 - 20.00
Wednesday 9.00 - 20.00
Thursday 9.30 - 17.30
Friday 9.00 - 17.00
Saturday 10.00 - 17.00
Sunday 12.00 - 16.00

Hans Christian Andersen was born 200 years ago in Odense, Denmark. His fairy stories are internationally well-known and loved but how did such a self-obsessed, social misfit create this world of engaging fantasy? Using clues provided by some of his best-known characters, this exhibition explores his rags to riches story and shows how his life is reflected in his stories. Explore the panel display, watch films of his life, enter our competition, see the fantastic Lego swan and ugly duckling, and dip into books written by and about him.

The exhibition runs in parallel with a major exhibition on the same theme at the British Library in London.

Celebration Day

Saturday 2 July 2005, 10.30-16.00
Ugly ducklings, tin soldiers and little mermaids – everyone is welcome!
at Leeds Central Library, The Headrow, Leeds

10.30 Art workshop based on Andersen's tales
11.30 Stephen Novy, storyteller extraordinaire, presents Storytelling and puppets.
In costume, Stephen Novy tells some of Andersen’s most famous stories, and through them weaves the story of the author’s life, brilliantly bringing together the real man and his tales.
“Brilliant… the shadow puppets were fantastic … the children were captivated.”

Suitable for all ages up to 12 years.


Image from The Little MermaidMeet Ian Beck, the famous illustrator of children’s stories
Ian will entertain familiies with a look at some of his famous books, including his new picture book, The Little Mermaid, freely adapted from the Andersen story.

14:30 Stephen Novy, storyteller extraordinaire, presents Storytelling and puppets
as above

A happy ending ...
The day’s activities will come to a close with a party atmosphere in the Central Library. Come in fancy dress if you choose – little mermaids, tin soldiers, ducklings, swans, emperors, princesses (with pea!)... The choice is endless. Fancy dress parade at 15.30.

All activities are free and will take place in the exhibition space on the first floor. Join us throughout the day for children’s activities, colouring, quizzes, Lego and face painting. No need to book, just turn up.

Andersen events at a library near you

Whether you live in Holt Park, Pudsey, Morley or anywhere in the Leeds area, check out your local library for more children’s Andersen activities throughout June.

And why not dip into a magical tale written for adults or children? Yorkshire libraries are joining forces with public libraries in London to offer you a recommended read of 50 books in the tradition of Hans Christian Andersen. Pick up a leaflet at your local public library to explore further, or check the Leeds Libraries website at

Talks at the British Library Boston Spa

Thursday 30 June 2005, 19.00-20.30
Ian Beck
Illustrating Andersen

Image of Ian BeckThe famous children’s illustrator will focus on the creation of his recent picture book The Little Mermaid, freely adapted from the Andersen original. It will illustrate the process from beginning to end – from rough workings and pictures that went wrong to the design and printing process.


Price £4.00 (concessions £3.00)

Book now

Wednesday 13 July 2005, 19.00-20.30
Kristian Jensen
Hans Christian Andersen: the art of being excluded

Image of Kristian JensenAndersen's social background was poverty stricken and though he won great acclaim, his continued perception of himself was as an outsider. Much of his writing deals with themes of rejection and exclusion, both social and emotional. Kristian will explore how these topics emerge as biographical elements within his fiction.

Kristian is Head of Early Printed Collections at the British Library, and co-curator of the Library’s London-based Hans Christian Andersen exhibition.

Price £4.00 (concessions £3.00)

Book now

Note: the British Library Boston Spa is situated on the Thorp Arch Trading Estate, near Wetherby and the village of Walton. It is NOT in Boston Spa village! Free parking is available.


We have two fantastic Andersen at the British Library gift packs to be won, especially for visitors to our Leeds exhibition. We want you to visit our London exhibition. It’s free, and you can browse other small displays at the same time, have lunch in our café and take away a souvenir from our shop: all in the fantastic setting of our impressive new building opened by the Queen in 1998. Each prize consists of rail travel for two people from your nearest GNER station to London King's Cross, an overnight stay at Hotel Russell in Russell Square, gift tokens for the British Library’s café and shop and a British Library Andersen gift.

To enter, visit the British Library’s Andersen exhibition in Leeds Central Library, complete the entry form and post it in the box provided. Closing date: Wednesday 27 July 2005.

Competition terms and conditions apply

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