Hans Christian Andersen was a writer of fairy tales, and the ten stories in this volume were the first to be translated into English. Andersen’s work has been in print ever since. In 1846, the year this volume appeared, three further English translations of his stories were published. Until this period, writing for children (particularly literature directed at a middle-class readership) was largely earnest, moralistic and instructional. The translation of Andersen’s writing signalled a growing acceptance that children could read and enjoy fantasy without being damaged morally and spiritually. Within 20 years, writers such as Lewis Carroll were writing stories which exploited this new freedom to be inventive and comic, something which today’s authors and readers take for granted.
The translator of this volume, Mary Howitt, was herself an author of children’s books and poetry, and she learnt Danish specifically in order to translate Andersen. She and Andersen were friends and he was pleased with the translation, although it is interesting to see that his surname is incorrectly spelled on the title page.
- Article by:
- M O Grenby
- Childhood and children's literature
Professor M O Grenby explores the relationship between fantasy and morality in 18th- and 19th-century children’s literature.
- Article by:
- Kimberley Reynolds
- The novel 1832–1880, Childhood and children's literature
Professor Kimberley Reynolds explores how Lewis Carroll transformed logic, literary traditions and ideas about childhood into the superbly inventive and irreverent Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.