From the Hans Christian Andersen biography "The Life of Hans Christian Andersen. Day By Day", written by DPhil Johan de Mylius:


The Family
Odense At The Time

1805: The Family

Place of birth

Must be considered unknown. The corner-house in the street called Hans Jensens Stræde (the foundation of the present HCA museum) has later been regarded as the place of birth, but HCA has never acknowledged this and was not himself able to name the exact place of birth. Presumably because the parents did not live together until 9 months after the birth of the child.


Anne Marie Andersdatter (born either 1773 or 1775, died 1833 in the almshouse 'Doctors Boder' and Hans Andersen (born 1782, died 1816), in census papers also called Hans Hansen Piper (Piper referring to his position in the Odense Civic Guards 3rd Company), who was a shoemaker, later an independent shoemaker (i.e. shoemaker not affiliated with the guild)

Half Sister

Karen Marie (born 22nd September 1799, died 18th November 1846 in Trinitatis parish, Copenhagen - the address Borgergade and registered as Ane Kaufmann (the name of her common law husband), née Andersen.
Karen Marie's father was a potter named Daniel Jørgensen Rosenvinge. She was registered under the father's name, Rosenvinge, at confirmation in St. Knuds Church, in October 1814. Being born out of wedlock, she was placed with HCA's maternal grandmother, and when the mother later married, placed outside the home. Travelled to Copenhagen (as a stowaway passenger) in November 1822 (according to a letter from HCA's mother to him, in order to seek him out. HCA was, however, at school in Slagelse at this time). Earned a living as a washerwoman in Copenhagen. Sought out HCA in 1842.


Christiane, born 1778, died 1830. Her mother (HCA's maternal grandmother) was not married in 1778. Her father: Johan Gottfred Meyer Fascher, saddlemaker in Odense. When her mother married the tailor Jens Pedersen in Odense in 1783, she kept the child with her. In the census of 1787 she is called Christiane Gotlib. Moved to Copenhagen, presumably in 1799, with a family she was maid for.
HCA sought her out in 1819, when it turned out that she ran a brothel. She herself claimed to be the widow of a wealthy sea captain named Jansen, although such a person never existed. Presumably she has taken the name and fame from a boatsman named Gert Jansen, who died in 1806, and with whom she may have lived. Her two daughters; Gertine and Lovise, are most likely foster children and therefore not the ancestors of later HCA "relatives".

Maternal Grandmother

Anna Sørensdatter (born approx. 1745, died 1825), married and widowed twice. Before then she gave birth to 3 children out of wedlock (amongst these HCA's mother). As a result of a case concerning the 3rd child, she was detained in prison for 8 days at Odense Town Hall in 1783. Her first husband, Jens Pedersen, (whom she married in 1783) was himself in Odense Prison from 1782-83 for having shot at a gamekeeper. Her second husband (from 1794), the glover Jørgen Rasmussen Sievert, became night watchman, first in Odense and after problems there, in Bogense from 1804
Anna Sørensdatter and Jørgen Rasmussen Sievert lived from January 1803 until July 1804 in the same corner-house in Hans Jensens StrŒde (street) which would later be designated as HCA's birthplace. It was here that HCA's half-sister was put into foster care.
Anna Sørensdatter died as a resident of "Hospitalet" (the almshouse) in Bogense.

Maternal Grandfather


Paternal Grandmother

Anne Cathrine Nommensen or Nomensdatter (born 1745, died 1822). Married 1781. Of all HCA's grandparents, she was the one he felt closest to. According to the autobiography Mit Livs Eventyr (The Fairy Tale of My Life ), she had told HCA that she and her husband had been well-to-do farmers, who through no fault of their own ended up poverty-stricken, and that her maternal grandmother had been a noble lady from Kassel in Germany, who had run away with a "comedy actor". This story may have been a motivating factor in HCA's own upward social mobility.
In reality, the paternal grandfather was a poor village tradesman, who also possibly for a time had a small farm. For a period of time he worked in Odense as a shoemaker.
The father of the paternal grandmother, Nomen Nomensen, 1707-87, was a glover from Holstein, who settled in Odense. He was married in Kappel in 1742 to Karen Sørensdatter, whose father, Søren Jensen, was a postal rider in Assens. Nomensen and his wife eventually ended up at the almshouse in Odense.
The maternal grandmother of Anne Cathrine Nommensen was not a German noblewoman, but rather a poor Danish girl, Karen Nielsdatter, who married the above-mentioned postal rider in Assens. After his death in 1754, the widow and 8 children were left in severe poverty.

Paternal Grandfather

Anders Hansen Traes (born approx. 1751, died 1827). Village shoemaker and possibly also farmer for a time. Settled in Odense as shoemaker. Became mentally disturbed and was, as such, taunted by the children of the town. HCA later feared the possibility of inheriting this state of insanity (one of several factors which indicates that he himself was aware that the Hans Andersen he grew up with was indeed his biological father). "Crazy Anders" ended his days as a resident at Gråbrødre Hospital (Odense's almshouse for the poor).

Half Cousin

Johan Figath Josephsen (1831-77). His maternal grandfather's mother was the same Karen Sørensdatter who was HCA's paternal grandmother's mother; in other words, they had a great grandmother in common. Johan F. Josephsen's mother's maiden name was Nomensen.
Johan Figath Josephsen worked in Åsum and in Odense at various bakeries and later, 5 years at an inn named "Rullekroen". Was sentenced to prison for forestry theft, convicted for begging and for letting his children beg. The two half cousins did not know each other.

1805: Odense At The Time


In those days, Odense was the second largest town in Denmark, with approx. 6,000 inhabitants, of which almost half belonged to the lower classes and 10% were destitute (equivalent to the national average). Prince Christian (later King Christian VIII) resided at Odense Castle from 1816 as the first "Prince Governor" of Funen. Through one of HCA's early patrons in Odense, Colonel C. Høegh-Guldberg (arrived in Odense in 1811 as commander of the garrison), HCA was granted an audience with the prince at the castle some time between 1816 and 1819. The prince was not, however, of a mind to assist the boy in pursuing a career in the arts, but rather admonished him to learn a trade. A theory - proposed by Jens Jørgensen in H.C. Andersen - A True Myth 1987 - to the effect that Prince Christian and Countess Elise Ahlefeldt-Laurvig were the biological parents of HCA, and that HCA knew this, has been thoroughly disproved by expert archivists as well as by HCA researchers. The later Christian VIII had a total of 10 illegitimate children, whom he kept meticulous records of and had placed well. HCA is not among them. And when HCA mentions how, later in life, he scrutinized his mirror image for traces of his paternal grandfather, "Mad Anders", fearing that he was going mad himself, it is out of the question that he should have “known”, that he was son of Christian the 8th.

Odense Theatre

In 1796 Odense got, as the first city outside Copenhagen, a regular theatre. (Back then located at “Sortebrøde Torv”). In HCA’s childhood especially German actor groups performed at Odense Theatre, which had no regular staff. Actors from the Royal Theatre on summer tours in the provinces also performed at Odense Theatre, and this had a hand in shaping HCA's dreams of moving up and out of the "bog". He would come to believe that happiness lay in a career at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen.


In Odense, there had been the equivalent of a grammar school since the Middle Ages. In 1802 it was reorganised to become the still existing "Kathedralskole" (Cathedral School), (a "learned" school). Furthermore, there were a total of 7 schools in Odense in 1806, including one at the workhouse (the almshouse). In 1812 a municipal primary school was opened (with fees).


Odense was the only town in the provinces to have two newspapers; Iversens and Hempels, named after the printer. The latter is still published (under the title "Fyns Stiftstidende").
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