Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen is the world’s most famous Danish writer; his works have been translated into more than 120 languages. Even during his life time he gained great recognition and frequented the Danish royal court. Hans Christian Andersen came from a poor family in the city of Odense. His father, a shoemaker, died when the son was ten, and his mother, a washerwoman, ended up at the poorhouse.
Hans Christian Andersen moved to Copenhagen at the age of 14 and tried without success to begin a career as a singer or dancer. The well-to-do civil servant’s family Collin took him under their wing and he received the equivalent of an A level or highschool certificate. The Collin family remained a continuous presence during his life, during which he also travelled extensively abroad and visited many Danish manor houses.
In his large body of work, which contains plays, novels, travel accounts, memoirs and poetry, his fairy tales stand out as his most original and beloved works.
Hans Christian Andersen died unmarried and childless. He lies buried at the Assistens Cemetary in Copenhagen.
Hans Andersen’s Ruler
The ruler is made of wood and decorated with paper cut-outs by Hans Christian Andersen. The decoration is a silhouette cut-out which amongst other things represents female figures with parasols dancing around a swan, and Ole Lukøje, Andersen’s fairytale character also known as Mr Sandman, with an umbrella. The famous author had a particular talent for paper cut-outs and happily entertained large gatherings with his stories at the same time as visualising them using paper and scissors. After having finished the story, he unfolded the paper cut-out and revealed a little artwork. This ruler was further decorated with dried leaves, of which one is still preserved. On the back of the ruler Andersen has written the little rhyme, ‘In every leaf is magic. A living soul sits within it.’ The text is dated 1872 and completes the ruler as an example of the author’s multiple talents for creating a story with many layers. The ruler was presumably a present from the artist to Christian IX, who kept it in his study at Amalienborg.