This year marks the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s birth. The author of “The Little Mermaid” has inspired countless others, including A.S. Byatt, who says Andersen “turned her into a writer.”
Now the Age has published an article about the man behind the stories:
A hypochondriac and super-sensitive, he was so terrified of being buried alive that on his travels through Europe, he slept with a note — “I only seem dead” — by his side. He was snobbish, insecure and self-obsessed, never able to judge his impression on others.
When his fame was at its height, he turned up, unannounced, at the home of the Brothers Grimm — and was met by Jakob with blank incomprehension. Invited for a holiday with Charles Dickens, previously one of his admirers, he so outstayed his welcome that Dickens put up a note which remarked unkindly that “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks — which seemed to the family AGES!” Dickens never communicated with him again.