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Hans Christian Andersen Exibit: British Library

abstract:If traveling to the UK this summer you must stop in at the British Library to see the comprehensive exhibit of one of the world's most beloved children's story tellers, Hans Christian Andersen. Born in Denmark in 1805 into poverty, he died in 1875 a wealthy man. This exhibit celebrates the bi-centenary of his birth. Preview the British Library's website and read about his life, his career, the people and influences that shaped his books.


July 30, 2005
— It is interesting to consider that children could be so captivated by stories whose themes explore the concept of rejection and exclusion. The Snow Queen, The Nightingale, The Ugly Duckling, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and The Little Mermaid are all stories rooted in century old folklore which Andersen related and adapted into a new creation—the literary fairy story. 


For book event planners, the line-up of offerings for this exhibit are an impressive display on how to work a subject and take advantage of the world-wide resource of experts. Add to that all the marketing paraphanalia: charm braceletts, mugs, t-shirts, new book releases and you've got the makings for a cottage industry.

There is a panel to discuss children's writers whose works are read by both adults and children, from the phenomenon of the Harry Potter books to Andersen's fairy tales.

Penelope Lively is an award-winning author of books for adults and young people.
Julia Eccleshare is an author and Children's Book Editor of The Guardian.
Francis Spufford is the award-winning author of The Child that Books Built, A Life in Reading and Backroom Boys.

There is the showing of Danish Film Director, Rummie Hammerich's film The Young Andersen (Unge Andersen) a powerful film narrative of the author's youth and incidents that may have transformed him.  

The illustrator Ian Beck is on hand to demonstrate the process of illustration from beginning to end using The Little Mermaid and he will discuss why certain decisions are made concerning text.  He has his own version of The Little Mermaid coming out this autumn published by Random House.

Paul Binding, novelist, critic and cultural historian with an interest in Nordic countries will speak to Hans Christian Andersen's sexuality and the recurrent and dominant themes in his work that point to a man dealing with gay desire in a largely hostile and unsympathetic society. 

There are musical performances and more lectures and workshops, all which will enlighten and inspire visitors. If you can't travel to this exhibit, you can still purchase the Exhitibition Guide and a copy of Andersen's Complete Stories.

Books & Stuff

Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Stories (British Library Publishing) based on Jean Hersholt's classic translation and illustrated by some of the best-known illustrators of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Only available in the UK.

Hans Christian Andersen: Exhibition Guide, (British Library Publishing)just released celebrates the bi-centenary of his birth with aspects of the whole exhibit's information.

Amazing Paper Cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen  Andersen's paper cuttings were an integral part of his storytelling performances: he cut while he spoke, unfolding a finished piece at the end of his tale. A final chapter describes some of Andersen's paper-cutting techniques and discusses the history of that art form. An intriguing glimpse of the famous author's lesser-known talent.

The Child That Books Built, Francis Spufford. (Metropolitan Books 2002) British journalist and award-winning author (I May Be Some Time) recreates his early reading itinerary and pinpoints the universal experiences of the constant young reader. I thought this book would be of interest to parents looking to inspire their children toward reading.

PDF Download of Classroom Activities 117kb

Link to the British Library's Resources on Children's Fiction & Fairy Tales



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