The best known creative writer from Denmark is the man who wrote the fairy tales we all grew up with: Hans Christian Andersen. He lived from 1805 to 1875 and wrote some of the best loved stories of all time, including “The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Emperor's New Clothes,” and “Thumbelina.”
While we were in Denmark, we saw two of the houses in Odense on the island of Fyn associated with Andersen's youth. One "hus" (mentioned in the sign above) is described as a "replica" and is supposedly where he was born, though Andersen, himself, denied this. In refuting this claim he said something along the lines of, I wouldn't have been born in such a hovel. But after his father died, Andersen did live a life of poverty with his mother, who worked as a washer woman. Because it was a replica, I'm not including photographs of it here.
The house above, located on Munkemøllestræde in Odense, was his childhood home that's been turned into a museum: barndoms = childhood and hjem = home.
From what I understand, the Andersen family shared this house with two other families, and each lived in an "apartment," roughly a third of the house. The Andersens' third was on the right end as you're facing the building.
The empty middle third of the house, below, was where another family lived. The structure was probably already a few hundred years old when the Andersens lived there in the 1800s and its age shows in the way the floors, walls and doors lean.
From the front door on the right end of the house (which you can see above just to the left of the open interior door), you would enter the Andersen's apartment by turning right. Below, in the tiny foyer, are some period shoes on the brick floor -- the Dutch weren't the only people wearing clogs!
The cobbler bench belonging to Hans' father is just to your right, sitting under the front windows. Walking toward the back of the house, you see the family's bed on the left wall.
Across from the bed, on the exterior wall, is a bench with a few period toys. This whole area, maybe 15 square feet, would have functioned as the father's workshop and the family's living room and bedroom! A few feet further on brings you to the kitchen in the very back of the house:
The little kitchen with its brick floor
Romantic view out the little kitchen window
Stepping out of the kitchen in the back courtyard
Heading back inside through the kitchen door
Allan (@hanedane) and I also went to a flea market in Haslev, Denmark last month called Det Blå Marked (The Blue Market) where I bought several books. One was this copy of Billedbog Uden Billeder by Hans Christian Andersen that was published in 1954. The title translates to Picture Book without Pictures. It was originally published in 1840 and is a beautiful series of 33 sketches, brief images seen by the Moon on his nightly trips across the sky and described to a “poor fellow,” the lonely narrator of the book.
The first image starts the story with a glint: “Gled jeg gennem Indiens klare Luft, jeg spejlede mig i Ganges...” -- I glided through the clear sky of India and reflected myself in the Ganges.” Each image makes a point... some small and some weighty. Near the end of the book, the Moon admits, “Maanens Straale laeser ikke alt, hvad selv de dodelige scriver”... the moon's rays do not read all that mortals write.
Thank you for reading and joining us on our travels! We're Allan and Stephanie... making our way through middle age.
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