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... I Ulva Cottage Hamilton Scotland 1 January 1869 Dear Mr Andersen, My name is Anna Mary, Last-born of Mary my mother, deceased Of the desert fever while I was but a ‘wee bairn’; I am but ten, too young to remember her voice. I do like your fairy tales so much – the tin soldier and the ugly, Ugly duckling. I would like to go and visit you; When Papa comes home from Africa I intend To ask him to take me ...

‘I am not dead’

Christopher Prendergast: H.C. Andersen, 8 March 2001

Hans ChristianAndersenThe Life of a Storyteller 
by Jackie Wullschlager.
Allen Lane, 506 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 7139 9325 1
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... Can it be, as Jackie Wullschlager maintains, that in the 1840s and 1850s Hans ChristianAndersen was ‘the most famous writer in Europe’, and that ‘two centuries after his birth Andersen is still not appreciated as the world-class author that he undoubtedly was, as representative of the European Romantic spirit as Balzac or Victor Hugo’? These are grand claims and, if they’re true, we might well use this lively and informative biography to acquaint ourselves further with Andersen’s life and work ...

In a Box

Deborah Friedell, 3 January 2013

... he started putrefying. Chopin was dissected at his own request, as was King Leopold I of Belgium. Hans ChristianAndersen, convinced that foreign doctors were all charlatans, carried a card when he went abroad that said ‘I am not really dead.’ In the same will in which he established the Nobel prizes, Alfred Nobel ...

Consider the Stork

Katherine Rundell, 1 April 2021

... in the original myth is a crane (γέρανος) not a stork. The version we know best comes from Hans ChristianAndersen. His rendering is more heavy metal than ours: a group of young storks are taunted by a cruel child, so their stork mother tells them she knows the pond ‘in which all the little babies lie, waiting ...

On Fanny Howe

Ange Mlinko: Fanny Howe, 5 October 2017

... with Howe telling ‘the children’ (who appear elliptically, in unstated relation to her) about Hans ChristianAndersen, and feeding them baguettes and apples en route to Ireland.Her latest book, The Needle’s Eye, picks up where The Winter Sun left off – with children, not in Ireland but in Uzbekistan – and ...

Superior Persons

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1986

Travels with a Superior Person 
by Lord Curzon, edited by Peter King.
Sidgwick, 191 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 283 99294 8
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The Ladies of Castlebrae 
by A. Whigham Price.
Alan Sutton, 242 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 228 1
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Lizzie: A Victorian Lady’s Amazon Adventure 
by Tony Morrison, Anne Brown and Ann Rose.
BBC, 160 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 563 20424 9
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Miss Fane in India 
by [author], edited by John Pemble.
Alan Sutton, 246 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 240 0
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Explorers Extraordinary 
by John Keay.
Murray/BBC Publications, 195 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 7195 4249 9
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A Visit to Germany, Italy and Malta 1840-41 
by Hans ChristianAndersen, translated by Grace Thornton.
Peter Owen, 182 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 7206 0636 5
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The Irish Sketch-Book 1842 
by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Blackstaff, 368 pp., £9.95, December 1985, 0 85640 340 7
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Mr Rowlandson’s England 
by Robert Southey, edited by John Steel.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 202 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 907462 77 4
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... demonstrations, had the mechanics’ institutes in a roar). And now, three famous authors. Hans ChristianAndersen’s A Visit to Germany, Italy and Malta, 1840-41 proves to be a thin travelogue, over-delicate like blanched veal. Eager to make an immortal reputation, determined to see magic and faery ...


Andrew O’Hagan: A City of Prose, 4 August 2005

... on a stepladder while ‘Irish labourers stare in through the very slates.’ A later visitor, Hans ChristianAndersen, saw a magnificent 18-room house, filled with pictures and engravings. But nothing is simply one thing, not even the reputation of a great house, and Dickens’s pile on Tavistock Square drew ire ...

Princes, Counts and Racists

David Blackbourn: Weimar, 19 May 2016

Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present 
by Michael Kater.
Yale, 463 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 0 300 17056 6
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... limited success. Even relatively minor figures declined to come. Some came but soon left, like Hans ChristianAndersen and Hoffmann von Fallersleben, author of ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, über Alles’. The exception was Franz Liszt, who spent thirty years in Weimar in all. He first appeared in 1841 and was soon ...

Looking for magic

Dinah Birch, 14 September 1989

Lewis Percy 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 261 pp., £11.95, August 1989, 0 224 02668 2
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Sexing the cherry 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Bloomsbury, 167 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0464 4
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by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 186 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 670 82118 7
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... is another matter. We leave him poised for a charmed flight as improbable as anything Hans ChristianAndersen might have fancied. Fairy stories make hazardous models for those who take them seriously. But we can’t quite do without them. The deliberative prose of Lewis Percy’s story holds the claims of ...

Wrong Kind of Noise

Marina Warner: Silence is Best, 19 December 2013

Silence: A Christian History 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 337 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 84614 426 4
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... raise the alarm because he knew the criminal. The reader of these opening anecdotes in Silence: A Christian History senses that MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford and one of the most lucid and authoritative TV historians ever, would prefer to stand by like the original dog, a quiet and eloquent witness to the hubbub and hurly-burly ...

Little Goldbug

Iain Bamforth: Tomi Ungerer, 19 July 2001

... raises 1.6 children. He has published 120 books, many of them for children; in 1997 he won the Hans ChristianAndersen Prize. He was born into a famous family of clockmakers in 1931, and raised in a suburb of Colmar, one of those idyllic medieval towns on the Rhine that seem lost to time.Like any child growing up in ...

Have you seen my hand?

Tim Parks: Rodari’s Toys, 18 March 2021

Telephone Tales 
by Gianni Rodari, translated by Antony Shugaar.
Enchanted Lion, $27.95, September 2020, 978 1 59270 284 8
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... was the exclusive prerogative of genius. Art must be democratised. In 1970 he was awarded the Hans ChristianAndersen Prize, the international award for children’s writing.At the edge of a town, we read in ‘The Road to Nowhere’, among other roads leading to familiar destinations, there was one that led ...


Amir Ahmadi Arian: Rushdie, Khomeini and Me, 23 May 2024

... do with the real writer, at one point borrowing a metaphor from ‘The Shadow’, a short story by Hans ChristianAndersen. In the story, a man’s shadow separates from his body and takes on a life of its own, travelling around and meeting people. It occasionally comes back to visit, each time more assertive, more ...

Mostly Middle

Michael Hofmann: Elizabeth Bishop, 8 September 2011

by Elizabeth Bishop.
Chatto, 352 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 7011 8628 9
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... neither of them especially Bishop-like qualities anyway), and the Robert Louis Stevenson or Hans ChristianAndersen idea, now gone mousy and a little folksy, fails to survive.A Bishop poem (watch it closely) goes on looking long after one thinks it should have looked away – from having seen enough, from having ...

Boxing the City

Gaby Wood, 31 July 1997

Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell 
by Deborah Solomon.
Cape, 426 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 224 04242 4
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... was known in the neighbourhood as a loner who collected odds and ends, as a silent member of the Christian Science Church, as a ‘scary kook’, as a haunted-looking man who was friendly to children. One visitor to Utopia Parkway recalls seeing a little girl walking across the lawn towards Cornell. She was holding one of his boxes. ‘I’m tired of this ...

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