One of the most popular Danish special stamps, are the one with the motive of H. C. Andersen.
As a celebration of his 200 years birthday, the Danish Postal Service developed a new special stamp which you will see to the right.
At the same time they have been writing a story about the life of H.C. Andersen, from when he was born on the 2nd of April 1908 until his death on the 4th of August 1875.
Hans Christian Andersen bicentennial
Hans Christian Andersen was born in the Danish city of Odense on Tuesday 2 April, 1805. In 2005, the bicentennial of his birth will be celebrated all over the world, focusing on the two cities that provided the foundation for his fantastic fairy-tale world: Odense and Copenhagen.
Post Danmark will be celebrating the great Danish writer with the issue of four special stamps. This will be far from the first time Hans Christian Andersen has been commemorated in stamps; as a matter of fact, no commoner has appeared more often on Danish stamps.
Where his world began Hans Christian Andersen's father was Hans Andersen, a shoemaker. His mother was Anne Marie Andersdatter, who earned her living as a washerwoman.
The little family was very poor; when Hans Christian was born the family had no home of its own, so we do not know his precise place of birth.
In 1868, shortly after Hans Christian Andersen was declared a freeman of the city of Odense, a well-known yellow house on the corner of Hans Jensens Stræde and Bangs Boder was designated as his birthplace. For obvious reasons, he himself had no recollection of where he was born.
Today, the yellow corner building houses the world-famous HansChristianAndersenMuseum. You can find out more at: www.odmus.dk
Childhood When Hans Christian Andersen was two years old, however, we know for certain that the family rented a small 18 sq m flat Munkemøllestræde, close to St. Knuds Cathedral, which is where Hans Christian Andersen lived until he was 14 years of age.
It was this home that was the source of his childhood memories – the childhood memories that he presented to the whole world through his many fairy tales and stories.
The small flat in Munkemøllestræde now houses an exhibition on Hans Christian Andersen's links with his home town of Odense.
Poor in wealth – but rich in experiences His childhood home may have been poor, but Hans Christian’s father opened up a rich and fantastic cultural world for his son, with everything from fairy tales and puppet theatre to readings of Holberg's comedies.
His grandmother, too, told him many stories, and claimed that she came from an aristocratic family, since her grandmother, a noble lady from Germany, had run away with an actor. In reality, her grandmother was a post carrier's daughter from nearby Assens.
But it was first and foremost his father who exerted the decisive influence on little Hans Christian, shaping the boy’s intellectual development and giving him the desire to make something of himself.
However, when Hans Christian was just 11 years old, his father died; and with that, his childhood was over.
On Saturday, 4 September, 1819, at the age of just fourteen, he left his childhood home and made the two-day journey from Odense to Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen for the first time At that time, Hans Christian Andersen had a single goal in life – he wanted to enter the theatre.
His greatest dream was to perform at the Royal Theatre – preferably in the ballet. However, it has to be said that the young Hans Christian cut a somewhat peculiar figure; he was tall (185 cm – almost 25 cm higher than the average), very thin, dressed in shabby clothes, and not exactly a handsome boy.
He made many approaches to people associated with the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, but all doors were closed to this strange-looking boy.
Here he was, fourteen years of age, on the streets of a strange city without a penny to his name.
But Hans Christian had a very strong will, and was not about to let himself be brushed aside just like that. Once he had set himself a goal, he usually achieved it.
The breakthrough came one night when he knocked on the door of Giuseppe Siboni, director of the Royal Theatre's singing school.
By chance, several of the capital's leading cultural figures were visiting. Hans Christian Andersen forced his way in and performed a brief song and dance act for the astounded company.
Whether it was from genuine interest or simple compassion we do not know, but the composer C.E.F Weyse took up a collection for the boy, which resulted in the sum of 70 rix-dollars and, later, a place at both the dancing and singing schools of the Royal Theatre.
The dream comes true In 1816, Hans Christian Andersen had his first walk-on part at Odense Theatre, and during this period he also performed in several small parts at the Royal Theatre.
The first time Hans Christian Andersen's name appeared on a theatre programme was in the ballet "Armida" in 1821, in which he played a troll. He was very proud.
But Hans Christian Andersen’s career as an actor, dancer and singer in the theatre turned out to be shorter than he would have wished.
August Bournonville, later to become a renowned ballet master, and whose bicentennial also falls in 2005, had begun to work in the ballet of the Royal Theatre at the same time as Andersen.
The two met here and formed a friendship which was to last all their lives. August Bournonville's bicentennial will also be marked with a stamp issue, on 4 May 2005.
Hans Christian Andersen the writer
Although Hans Christian Andersen was fired from the Royal Theatre in 1822, he could not entirely let go of the theatrical world. In the years following his dismissal, he wrote several plays.
Some years were to pass, however, before his first play, Kjærlighed paa Nicolai Taarn ("Love in NicolaiTower") was performed in 1829. Later, many of Hans Christian Andersen's plays were performed at the Royal Theatre.
But Hans Christian Andersen also wrote numerous novels, short stories, travel accounts, poems, biographies, articles and humorous essays.
For this part of his work he was regarded, even in his own day, as one of Europe's most important writers. As early as the 1830s, his first novels were translated into German, Dutch, English and several other languages – and soon he was being read from Russia in the east to America in the west. Several of his poems were set to music, and are still among the best-loved pieces in the Danish song treasury. Many Danes feel that I Danmark er jeg født ("In Denmark I was born") ought to be the Danish national anthem, but such songs as Jylland mellem tvende have ("Jutland Betwixt Two Seas") and Hist hvor vejen slår en bugt ("Where the Road Bends") are also among the most beautiful Danish poems ever written.
In 1835 he published a very modest booklet entitled Eventyr – fortalte for Børn ("Tales, Told for Children"). This first booklet contained four fairy tales: The Tinderbox, Little Claus and Big Claus, The Princess and the Pea and Little Ida's Flowers.
Hans Christian Andersen realised that he had found a genre that he was good at; in a letter to the poet B.S Ingemann, he wrote, "I think I will succeed at this." And he certainly did.
Today, the fairy tales and stories of Hans Christian Andersen have been translated into some 150 languages – a figure surpassed only by the Bible. That says something about how great a writer he was.
Hans Christian Andersen is a timeless world star – and his light has never faded, as we can see from the constant flood of new translations, new pressings, artistic interpretations, dramatisations and film versions of his fairy tales that are being produced all over the world even now, 130 years after his death.
The DKK 6.50 stamp honours Hans Christian Andersen the writer. The original manuscript that can be seen in the background of the stamp is part of the first page of Mit livs eventyr ("The Fairy Tale of my Life"), Hans Christian Andersen's autobiography, published in 1855.
The pen and inkpot are Hans Christian Andersen's own, while the duck was drawn in 1925 by Louis Moe, as part of the illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling".
Hans Christian Andersen the artist Another major aspect of Hans Christian Andersen's artistic production consisted of his drawings and paper cuts.
On his many journeys, both in Denmark and abroad, Andersen drew many small vignettes, some of which were included in his diaries. He was a faithful diarist, and drew vignettes to capture special atmospheres associated with the things that he wrote about.
But what most people associate with Hans Christian Andersen, besides his fairy tales, are his marvellous paper cuts.
The art of cutting paper into artistic designs was another skill that Hans Christian Andersen learned at home; it was his father who first taught him how to wield the scissors.
Paper cuts were part of the everyday entertainment in the house in which Hans Christian Andersen lived, and some of the families that Andersen knew collected his paper cuts, drawings and collages in scrapbooks, several of which still exist in their entirety. Some of these have also been photographed and published.
The motif on the DKK stamp shows one of Hans Christian Andersen's characteristic paper cuts as well as his own scissors, which are now on display in the museum in Odense.
Hans Christian Andersen the traveller
Hans Christian Andersen often said that "to travel is to live", and in this respect he was a person who was very much alive.
Even when Hans Christian Andersen was living in Denmark, he was constantly on the move – his Copenhagen address never remained the same for long. In the course of his life he lived at more than 15 different addresses in Copenhagen, but was rarely at home anyway.
Instead, he was busy travelling up and down the country; many castles and manor houses all over the country can boast of having had Hans Christian Andersen as a guest for a brief or a longer period.
And Andersen was a much-valued guest. Wherever he stayed, he rapidly became the centre of attention and attracted other guests from far and near, who came to see the famous man express himself. Hans Christian Andersen relished the attention; he would cut out his paper cuts while telling fairy tales and stories that he had "thought up" for both children and adults – and they loved him for it.
He also made several journeys abroad. His first long trip began on 21 April 1833, and took him to Rome via Paris. He arrived in Rome on 18 October, and was rapidly accepted into the local Danish-German artistic community, which was centred on the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.
Andersen's stay in Italy proved to be a breath of fresh air for him. He felt greatly uplifted by the many impressions that he gained from Italian nature, people and art.
His journey home took him through Munich, Vienna and Prague, and he arrived back in Denmark in August 1834. This trip was to be followed by many other long journeys abroad. The motif of the DKK stamp shows Hans Christian Andersen's drawing of the Casino dell’Orologio in the Villa Borghese in Rome, where he spent Christmas 1833. The stamp also shows his Moroccan travelling boots, which he probably bought while visiting Morocco in 1862. Both the drawing and the boots are now on display at the Hans Christian Andersen museum in Odense.
Andersen and modern technology Hans Christian Andersen was greatly fascinated by the technical and scientific developments of his day.
Photography was beginning to become more commonplace in the middle of the 19th century, and Hans Christian Andersen, who was much taken up with his own appearance, was happy to explore the possibilities of the photograph.
The portrait on the DKK stamp was taken by the photographer Thora Hallager. Hans Christian Andersen was her lodger at Lille Kongensgade 1 from 1866-69, and again from 1871-73 at the address Nyhavn 18.
Andersen himself used this portrait as a visiting card. Today, we know of around 175 photographs of Andersen.
Hans Christian Andersen was also fascinated by the railways, and was a passenger on the first Danish railway line, from Copenhagen to Roskilde, which opened in 1847. He was also interested in the telegraph, which made its appearance around 1854, and gas street lighting, which was introduced in 1857.
Hans Christian Andersen the world citizen Most Danes are well aware that Hans Christian Andersen was Danish – but that's not the case around the world. Many children and adults in other countries are convinced that Hans Christian Andersen was a citizen of their own lands – which may be because Hans Christian Andersen was what we would nowadays call a real citizen of the world.
Hans Christian Andersen has touched and enchanted children and adults all over the world with his fairy tales and stories.
Nonetheless, it was in Denmark that Hans Christian Andersen's fantastic world of fairy tales and stories had its origin – and we are proud of him; so proud, that all Denmark will be holding a mammoth birthday party for the writer in 2005.
A national festival The Danish government has appointed a special secretariat to keep track of the many festivities that have already been planned.
Unfortunately, it is impossible here in Journal to provide even a small impression of the many events that will be taking place for the bicentennial, but there will be a lot of attention to Hans Christian Andersen in 2005. The celebrations will be taking place up and down over the country – indeed, all over the world.
A number of postal services from other countries will also be issuing stamps on the occasion of the bicentennial of the writer's birth.