Hans Christian Andersen: storyteller, hypochondriac, bad houseguest

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.


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