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printImage of The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by John Hassall

Hans Christian Andersen, the outsider

‘The poor duckling didn’t know where it dared stand or where it dared walk. It was so sad, because it looked so ugly and was made fun of by everyone in the duckyard.’ ‘The Ugly Duckling’.

At the age of 14, Andersen left Odense and set out for Copenhagen, determined to make his name in the theatre. Despite many disappointments he clung to his ambition, seizing every opportunity to act, sing or dance before an audience, or to recite the poems and plays he had begun to write.

Enlarged image Image of the Collin family house in Odense Enlarged image
Image of The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by John Hassall   Image of the Collin family house in Odense
The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by John Hassall (Glasgow, 1932). British Library 20052.i.5
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  The Collin family house in Bredgarde, Copenhagen
Copyright © Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen (Denmark)

He gained the patronage of the Collin family, who arranged for him to be sent away to school. This unhappy experience haunted him into adulthood. These were difficult years for Andersen as he lived in two contrasting worlds – the poverty of his own circumstances and the well-to-do bourgeois circle of his benefactors. Two members of the Collin family (Edvard and his sister Louise) became objects of his unrequited love: a pattern that was to repeat itself throughout his life.

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Hans Christian Andersen's childhood in Odense
Hans Christian Andersen's childhood in Odense
Hans Christian Andersen, the outsider
Hans Christian Andersen, the struggle to belong
Hans Christian Andersen, the struggle to belong
Genius of Hans Christian Andersen
Genius of Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen, the traveller
Hans Christian Andersen, the traveller
Admiration for Hans Christian Andersen
Admiration for Hans Christian Andersen
Timeline of Hans Christian Andersen's life
Timeline of Hans Christian Andersen's life
'Hans Christian Andersen' by Jackie Wullschlager (PDF format) 169kb
'Hans Christian Andersen' by Jackie Wullschlager (PDF format) 169kb
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