Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) was born in Odense, Denmark, the son of a poor shoemaker and a washerwoman. As a young teenager, he became quite well known in Odense as a reciter of drama and as a singer. When he was fourteen, he set off for the capital, Copenhagen, determined to become a national success on the stage. He failed miserably, but made some influential friends in the capital who got him into school to remedy his lack of proper education. In 1829 his first book was published. After that, books came out at regular intervals. His stories began to be translated into English as early as 1846. Since then, numerous editions, and more recently Hollywood songs and Disney cartoons, have helped to ensure the continuing popularity of the stories in the English-speaking world.
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