Hans Christian Andersen published his first novel, The Improvisatore, in the same year as his first collections of fairy tales (1835). But it was clearly the novels he thought would make him famous.

The Improvisatore appeared almost immediately in German and was well received in Germany, and - like his other novels - it was soon translated into a number of other languages.

Andersen was known all over Europe as a novelist before he became famous as a teller of tales. Particularly his third novel, Only a Fiddler (1837), was a great hit in Germany, Holland and Sweden.

All in all, Andersen wrote six novels, which as contemporary novels (in contrast to B.S. Ingemann's popular historical novels) broke new ground for the novel genre, then relatively new in Denmark. The other novels are O.T. (1836), The two Baronesses (1848), To be or not to be (1857) and Lucky Peer (1870).