The lesser known artist within this beloved fairytale author

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Whirling dervishes at Pera by HC Andersen | Via Brain Pickings

May 8, On This Day

A man of many gifts

Andersen in 1869 | wikimedia

Exactly 186 years ago to this day, on May 8, 1835, Hans Christian Andersen‘s first installment of “Fairy Tales” was published by CA Reitzel in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Danish author is best remembered for his iconic fairytales, such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Red Shoes, The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, and Thumbelina. However, he was also a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, poems — and an artist!

Beethoven’s grave in the cemetery at Währing near Vienna, from a diary entry dated June 30, 1834 | Via Brain Pickings
Whirling dervishes at Pera by HC Andersen | Via Brain Pickings

After receiving a small travel grant from the King of Denmark in his late twenties, Andersen toured Europe and kept journals, writing beautiful passages about places he visited accompanied by his own sketches of sights that spoke to him. Brain Pickings has explored this fascinating side of him.

Oriental building by HC Andersen, inspired by his travels to Constantinople (now Istanbul) | Via DW.com
Man with Turban (1871) | Via DW.com

He also created hundreds of paper silhouettes, and called paper cutting “a prelude to writing”. He reportedly devoted a great deal of time and energy to this hobby, and often gave away his creations as gifts. In the last years of his life, Andersen enjoyed so-called blotchography, an experimental technique based on ink blotches that, mostly by chance, drip onto paper. Deutsche Welle shares more about this facet of Andersen’s.