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


Breakthrough in Germany
Is Awarded a Public Poet's Appanage.
Criticism by Søren Kierkegaard
Fairy-tales; Drama

1838: Breakthrough in Germany

In this year

A Russian translation of Xavier Marmier's article about HCA is published: "Datskij poét Andersen (Biblioteka dlja ctenija).

In this year

HCA's friend, Henriette Hanck, anonymously publishes the novel Aunt Anna. An Autumn Sketch. A German edition appears in 1845, just as her second novel, Daughter of an Authoress, from 1842, appears in both Swedish (1844) and German (1846).

February - 23rd March

HCA translates Raimund's Der Verschwender from German to Danish, to be used by the actors for summer performances. But Overskou beat him to it with Raimund's Der Alpenhönig und der Menschenfeind, a piece which was, however, only performed twice. This fiasco meant that the actors were reluctant to take on yet another piece by Raimund. Indeed, both plays were characterised by the theatre's censor, Molbech, as "melodramatic", which meant that neither was added to the repertoire of the theatre. HCA's translation was neither used nor printed. Not until 1849 did HCA get an adaptation of Raimund's work on the stage in Copenhagen. It was Meer end Perler og Guld (More than Pearls and Gold) and became one of his great successes at the Casino theatre.

11 February

For recitation at an evening of entertainment at the Royal Theatre, arranged as a benefit for the blind, HCA had written, amongst other things, the poem "Mene, mene tekel upharsin". The poem is about three major fires that had taken place abroad; the castle in St. Petersburg, the theatre in Paris and the stock exchange in London. The general theme of the poem is that only the richness of the spirit will survive, while all else withers away, including national characteristics. For example, the powerdemonstration of Russian despotism, the theatre as a mirror of widespread French preoccupation with pleasure and the worship of the golden calf so prevalent in England and Europe.

The poem had been practised for recitation on the stage, but was prohibited by the directors of the theatre. "They say it is too political" (letter dated 23rd February to Frederik Læssøe). HCA was shocked by the censuring and considered the poem "quite innocent" (letterdated 10th February to Henriette Hanck). He presented Prince Christian with a copy of the poem (probably so as to demonstrate his "political innocence") and was able to tell Henriette Hanck (letter, 10th February 1838) that "It has already been widely discussed here in town". In protest of the censorship, HCA intended to have the poem printed, along with the theatre letter from the theatre board of directors, but was advised against it.

Late March

Release of a popular magazine which includes a reproduction of the portrait of HCA made by C.A. Jensen. HCA comments on this in a letter to Henriette Hanck dated 1st April:

"Just lately, some sort of magazine has been released. The title is: New Magazine For Nature and Knowledge of Humananity. Hempel [a bookseller in Odense] can get it for you for four farthings, if you ask him. Each issue presents someone famous, and would you believe it, there I am in the latest issue, along with my portrait, for the same four farthings. The portrait is based on Jensen's, but looks ghastly. It's awful, I am a monster. All the same, I find it quite amusing to be featured in a popular magazine; it seems I am a little popular, after all [...] My landlady has pinned it on the wall and the maid has it in her trunk."

9 April

The first almanac entry regarding having met August Bournonville.

1838: Is Awarded a Public Poet's Appanage.

19 May

Release of Tre Digtninger (Three Tales): ("Lykkens Kalosker" (The Galoshes of Fortune) [the original version], "En rigtig Soldat" (A Real Soldier), "Det har Zombien gjort" (What The Zombie Did). In a letter to Henriette Hanck, dated 10th February 1838), HCA emphasised that "The Galoshes of Fortune" were "not for children". As the fairy-tale is more in line with the "Hoffmann-like imagination so prevalent in Fodreisen (A Walking Tour), than with the spirit and style of the Tales, Told For Children, it must be with this in mind that we may understand the following point of view, expressed by HCA about the Galoshes of Fortune;

"I'm working on a fairy-tale, but now regret these juggling acts with the golden apples of imagination".
(from letter to Frederik Læssøe, dated 23rd February).

HCA received 40 rdl. from Reitzel the publisher for "The Galoshes of Fortune". The tale includes a dramatic element titled En Rigtig Soldat (A Real Soldier. Dramatic Situation in Rhymed Verse With Songs and Choir in One Act). This feature was submitted to the Royal Theatre in April 1836, but returned in May of the same year.

26 May

By royal resolution, HCA is awarded an annual grant of 400 rdl. This came about with the assistance of Count Conrad Rantzau-Breitenburg, titular Privy Prime Minister, who was an enthusiastic reader of HCA and to whom HCA had expressed his woes.
While HCA still awaited the outcome of this matter, with doubt and anticipation, he wrote (on 25th Nov. 1837) to Henriette Hanck, saying that if he were awarded the 400rdl., it would;

" such wonderful luck! And yet - it is not enough to be overjoyed, I need 1000 rdl. a year before I may permit myself to fall in love, and 1500 before I dare marry. And by the time this almost impossible wish becomes a reality, the young girl will be gone, swept away by someone else, and I'll be an old, dried up bachelor; such sad prospects [...] No, I'll never be rich, never satisfied and never - in love!"

Approx. June

Release of Kun en Spillemand (Only a Fiddler) in German (Nur ein Geiger), including an introductory biography of HCA, written by a Major G.F. von Jenssen, who was also a postmaster. The publishers are Fr. Vieweg und Sohn in Braunschweig. HCA himself mentions, in a letter to Henriette Hanck from September 1837, that his novel is being translated to German by P. Th. Schorn, and that it is to be released by Campes publishing house. Whether or not this initiative was abandoned due to the working relationship with von Jenssen is not known - HCA provided the material for the introductory biography. Around the same time, an article on HCA is printed in Brockhaus's Conversationslexikon der Gegenwart (based on Marmier).

5 June

Meets George O'Neill at a dinner party at the Wulffs'.


HCA writes to Jette Wulff, who is holidaying at Nysø, saying that;

"My love for the ocean has now reached such heights that I, despite my advanced age, have now engaged a swimming instructor"
(Letter dated 22nd June).

The lessons took place at the Naval Academy.

1838: Criticism by Søren Kierkegaard

2nd July - 6th August

Summer journey to Nysø, Odense and Sorø. At Nysø, staying with Baroness Stampe, HCA spends time with Henriette Wulff and her brother Christian. Tension develops. The Wulff family are old friends of the Stampes and this is how HCA is introduced as a guest at Nysø Estate.
Baroness Stampe, moreover, buys the portrait of HCA painted by C.A. Jensen, which had been exhibited at Charlottenborg in the spring. At this exhibition there had also been a bust of HCA, made by Jens Adolf Jerichau.

6 September

Release of Søren Kierkegaard's debut book: Af en endnu Levendes Papirer (From The Notes of One Still Living). The book is a lengthy and in-depth criticism of Kun en Spillemand (Only a Fiddler) and of HCA's abilities as a novelist in general. Kierkegaard denies that HCA has any aptitude as a novelist and accuses him of not having "philosophy of life". HCA had already heard rumours of the book on 30th August and felt martyred at the thought of what lay ahead.

Autumn 1838

Release of the first Dutch translation of HCA's work.Only a Fiddler was published as 't was maar een speelman. Amsterdam. There is no date or mention of translator.


The Collin family move from the street named Bredgade to Amaliegade.

17 September

Thorvaldsen, who now returns to Denmark, arrives in Copenhagen. HCA accompanies Heiberg, Overskou, Hertz and Holz in the poet's boat, to greet Thorvaldsen. Oehlenschläger is also on the boat as it returns.

18 September

Visits Thorvaldsen.

19 September

Writes a poem for Thorvaldsen.

2 October

Release of Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Ny Samling. Første Hefte. (Tales, Told For Children. New Collection. First Booklet). This includes "Gaaseurten" (The Daisy), "Den Standhaftige Tinsoldat" (The Steadfast Tin Soldier) and "De vilde Svaner" (The Wild Swans). 2nd edition: 1846.

7 October

Attends a big party given for Thorvaldsen, held at hotel d'Angleterre.

11 October

Writes a song for Thorvaldsen for the Students' Association. Copies of the song are circulated.

1838: Fairy-tales; Drama

14 October

A party is held for Thorvaldsen at the Students' Association, to mark his being made a member there. The poem by HCA is praised by people from all sides, something he is not at all used to. He gets the impression that this poem will be more popular than the successful "Det døende Barn" (The Dying Child). On this matter he writes to Henriette Hanck:

"Voila! One wins the admiration of the world for a paper flower and one is sent to the gallows for planting a scented palm. Oh such people."

[This last comment is likely to be directed at Kierkegaard's taunting of the novel Only a Fiddler].

Mid October

Works on the drama Mulatten (The Mulatto). Comments on this in a letter (4th November) to Henriette Hanck:

"There is no theatre frippery, just human emotions, my "bad blood", and my "noble side", which I am learning to present in supple verse. This piece will decide whether I am to work for the stage or just as a novelist".

Late October

Release of Kun en Spillemand (Only a Fiddler) in Swedish, titled Spelmannen från Svendborg. Part1. Part 2 is released in December. The novel is available in L.J. Hierta's Nytt Läse-Bibliothek, a series of translated novels available at low prices.

Late October - Early November

Is informed that the painter Fritz Petzholdt, with whom HCA had spent time in Rome, has been murdered in Greece. Petzholdt was the brother of Edvard Collin's sister-in-law, Augusta (née Petzholdt, married to Gottlieb Collin). HCA comments on this:

"They say his head was cut off [...] The Collins are very depressed about all this [...] he was highly gifted, a talent, a great painter of landscapes and he was worth 80.000 rdlr.; young and able to enjoy life" [with regard to financial fortune and enjoying life, this of course was everything HCA so bitterly longed for].

4 November

Attends a concert by the violinist Ole Bull. On the same day, HCA describes this event in detail to Henriette Hanck. The description of hearing Bull play is similar to the description given in Only a Fiddler of Christian's godfather, the Norwegian violinist, one year earlier:

"[...] then his violin began to weep, as a child might, it was the cry of a shattered heart that sobs, then my eyes flooded, I was his admirer and always will be [...] In melody the poems of Heine swept about me, this world of shredded images, with deep emotions and sharp irony [...] at times there was a whistling, like small fiery snakes from the violin, then the bow would dance so merrily, it seemed I was at a peasants' wedding, where the devil stood behind the groom, laughing, while the bride shed heavy tears of blood. Oh - what Bull must have suffered in this world, felt and felt again, before all this could flow from his heart and out through the tips of his fingers."

Mid November

First meeting in person with Ole Bull (on the street).HCA immediately goes to Reitzel and gets a beautifully bound copy of Kun en Spillemand (Only a Fiddler) (!), which he gives to Ole Bull with a dedication. HCA is fascinated by the story of Bull's life and finds it in many ways similar to his own fate. Suffering at this time from bouts of gloom and depression, HCA is easily able to relate to the art and life of Bull.

28 November

Release of Den Usynlige paa Sprogø. (The Invisible Man on Sprogø. A Jape. One Act, With Choir and Songs).

1 December

Moves to Hotel du Nord, room 25 (at Kongens Nytorv, on the corner of Vingaardsstræde, now demolished and replaced by the department store Magasin du Nord). HCA now has a living room facing Kongens Nytorv and a bedroom facing the courtyard. Describes the new living quarters to Henriette Hanck (10th December):

"I feel so very comfortable there, that I am amazed at how patient I was with my previous landlady, for the past four years. The service is very good, and when I call, waiters appear, each one blacker than the other, which probably will have a good effect, now that I'm working on The Mulatto".

December: (presumably)

Swedish Release of Improvisatören, in the series Hiertas Läse-Bibliotek.

18 December

Five of HCA's fairy-tales for children are released in Swedish as part of a series of publications titled "Lekkamraten" (The Playmate). Included are "Thumbelina", "Little Claus and Big Claus", "The Travelling Companion", "Little Ida's Flowers" and "The Tinder Box", along with four fairy-tales by Grimm and Musäus. Publisher and translator: J.W. Liffman

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