Hans Christian Andersen is born on April 2, in the Danish city of Odense. His father, Hans Andersen, is a cobbler ; his mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, works as a washerwoman.
Hans Andersen Sr. leaves his family to serve in the Danish army at a time when Denmark is an ally of Napoleon. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm publish the first volume of Children's and Household Tales.
Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard is born.
Hans Andersen Sr. returns to Odense, suffering from an illness contracted while he was in the army. Denmark cedes control of Norway to Sweden.
The Grimm brothers publish the second volume of Children’s and Household Tales.
Hans Andersen Sr. dies. Young Hans takes a factory job to help support the household.
Anne Marie remarries, but the family’s financial situation does not improve. Endowed with an exceptional singing voice, Hans earns money singing in the salons of the town’s educated middle class.
Young Hans leaves Odense and travels to Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, where he pursues a career as a singer, dancer, and actor. He solicits leading figures in the city’s arts establishment before winning the patronage of composer C. E. F. Weyse, among others; he is provided with singing lessons and a small stipend.
His stipend depleted, a desperate Andersen joins Copenhagen’s Royal Theater choir and lands several minor roles with the company.
A play written by Andersen is rejected by the theater. With the help of one of the theater’s directors, Jonas Collin, Andersen obtains a scholarship that allows him to attend a private school in Slagelse, 50 miles from Copenhagen. The Grimms publish a third volume of Children’s and Household Tales. German Romantic author E. T. A. Hoffmann dies.
Returning to Copenhagen and still under the patronage of Jonas Collin, Andersen begins dining with the cultured families of the cosmopolitan city and develops a lifelong friendship with his patron’s son, Edvard Collin. He publishes his first work, a poem called “The Dying Child.”
Andersen passes entrance exams for the University of Copenhagen but does not enroll. He publishes his first book, A Walking Tour from the Holmen Canal to the Eastern Point of Amager. His first play, Love at St. Nicholas Tower, is performed at the Royal Theater.
He makes his first major trip to Germany and meets many important authors and writers, including Ludwig Tieck, a German writer of fairy tales.
Andersen writes The Book of My Life, the first of three autobiographies he will produce; it will not be published until 1926. The second part of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust is published posthumously.
Andersen’s mother, overcome by alcoholism, dies. During this year and the next, Andersen travels to Germany, Paris, Switzerland, and Italy. Slavery is abolished in the British Empire.
The Improvisatore, an autobiographical novel set in Italy, is so successful that it is immediately published in German . Andersen’s first booklet of fairy tales, Fairy Tales Told for Children, is published in May; the volume includes “The Tinderbox,” “Little Claus and Big Claus,” and “The Princess on the Pea.” In December he publishes a second booklet of Fairy Tales that includes “Thumbelina” and “The Naughty Boy.”
Andersen’s second autobiographical novel, O. T.: Life in Denmark, is published. Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers begins to be published in monthly installments.
A third booklet of Andersen’s Fairy Tales is published, this one containing “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” A third autobiographical novel, Only a Fiddler, is published.
The King of Denmark awards Andersen an annual grant that allows him to concentrate on writing. He publishes the first booklet of a new collection of Fairy Tales Told for Children that includes “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” and “The Wild Swans.” Dickens’s Oliver Twist is a best-seller in England. Naturalist and artist John James Audubon completes publication of the four volumes of The Birds of America.
The second booklet of the new Fairy Tales collection, including “The Flying Trunk” and “The Storks,” is published .
Andersen’s plays The Mulatto, which dramatizes the evils of slavery, and The Moorish Maiden debut at the Royal Theater. During this year and the next, he travels to Italy, Greece, and Turkey.
Andersen publishes the third booklet of the new collection of Fairy Tales; it includes “The Rose Elf” and “The Swineherd.” He publishes the travel book A Poet’s Bazaar.
Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol. German poet Friedrich Hölderlin dies. English critic John Ruskin publishes the first volume of his critical work Modern Painters. The Tivoli Gardens open in Copenhagen.
New Fairy Tales, a collection of tales containing “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Nightingale,” is published. Andersen makes his first visit to Weimar, Germany, a cultured city to which he will return repeatedly in the years that follow.
He publishes a second collection of New Fairy Tales, which includes “The Snow Queen” and “The Spruce Tree,” and a third collection, which includes “The Red Shoes” and “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep.”
He produces a third volume of New Fairy Tales; it includes “The Shadow.” Andersen’s second autobiography , The True Story of My Life, is published in German and is shortly translated into English. Andersen visits England and meets Dickens.
He publishes a fourth volume of New Fairy Tales, which includes “The Little Match Girl,” and a patriotic novel, The Two Baronesses. Frederick VII becomes the Danish king. Denmark goes to war with Germany and Prussia over control of the region Schleswig-Holstein. German political theorist and revolutionary Karl Marx produces his Communist Manifesto.
In Sweden, a travel narrative of Andersen’s visit to that country, is published. German-French poet Heinrich Heine publishes Romanzero. American writer Herman Melville publishes Moby-Dick.
Andersen publishes Stories, which includes “It’s Perfectly True!” Dickens begins monthly serialization of Bleak House. German playwright Christian Friedrich Hebbel’s Agnes Bernauer debuts.
Andersen publishes a second collection of Stories that includes “Everything in Its Proper Place”.
The Fairy Tale of My Life, Andersen’s third and final autobiography, is published. Kierkegaard dies. American poet Walt Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass.
Andersen publishes the novel To Be or Not to Be.
Andersen publishes the first two volumes of the series New Fairy Tales and Stories; included are “Something” and “The Bog King’s Daughter.”
A third volume of New Fairy Tales and Stories, including “The Girl Who Stepped on Bread”, is published.
English playwright J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, is born.
Andersen publishes the first volume in a second series of New Fairy Tales and Stories; included are “The Snow-man” and “What Father Does Is Always Right”.
He publishes a second volume in the second series of New Fairy Tales and Stories; included are “The Ice Maiden” and “The Butterfly.”
Andersen publishes the travel book In Spain.
Denmark goes to war with Prussia and Austria over Schleswig-Holstein, which Denmark is forced to relinquish . French scientist Louis Pasteur demonstrates that treatment with heat protects certain foods from damaging microorganisms.
Andersen publishes a third volume in the second series of New Fairy Tales and Stories, including “The Will-o’-the Wisps Are in Town”. Russian writer Leo Tolstoy begins publishing War and Peace. English author Lewis Carroll publishes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. English author Rudyard Kipling is born.
Andersen publishes a fourth volume in the second series of New Fairy Tales and Stories, including “The Snowdrop.”
Lucky Peter, Andersen’s last novel, appears.
Andersen publishes two volumes in the third series of New Fairy Tales and Stories, including “The Gardener and the Gentry,” “Auntie Toothache,” and “The Story Old Johanna Told”; he begins to experience the first symptoms of liver cancer.
Hans Christian Andersen dies on August 4 in Copenhagen. His funeral is attended by hundreds of admirers, including the Danish king.