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


The Telegraph
Visit to Silkeborg
Collected Works

1853: The Telegraph

In this year

Release of Contes danois (Danish Tales), in Tours, France.

12 February

Performance of Nøkken. Opera i een Act (The Water Elf. Opera in One Act), with music by F. Glæaser - and not, as HCA had wanted originally, by Gade. The piece is performed 7 times during HCA's life.

23 February

The Water Elf is printed and released.

31 March

Sees a performance by the Price Company at the Court Theatre which includes a prologue by HCA. This is the first occasion on which he sees King Frederik VII (in a theatre box) with Countess Danner.

23 April

Arranges with Reitzel that 4,000 copies of his work Illustrerede Eventyr (Illustrated Fairy-tales) are to be printed, as well as a low-price edition of his Samlede Skrifter (Collected Works), consisting of 2,000 copies. The publisher Reitzel in fact dies shortly after this agreement is made.

31 May

Travels to Sorø, where he stays with the Ingemanns until 7th June. At this time, HCA reads the new novel by Carsten Hauch, Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steam-ship, with great interest.
Up in the large attic room of Ingemann's house, with a view of the lake, HCA sits reading the book and writes to Hauch about his impression of it:

"I have experienced, in my own development, the truth of what you have felt and given" (letter dated 3rd June).

He also writes to Henriette Wulff about the book (on 5th June), adding:

"Each day I have a minor dispute with Ingemann about the significance of inventions, as he values poetry higher than science, which I do not. He admits that ours is the great age of inventions, but only at a mechanical level, a material level; I consider this to be the necessary foundation for the spiritual, providing great branches upon which poetry may blossom. The fact that people draw closer to one another, that countries and towns are connected, through steam and electromagnetism, into one great community hall seems to me so spiritually great and wondrous that the thought of it elevates me to such heights as the song of any poet has ever been able".

To Henriette Wulff and Carsten Hauch he relates how, in Copenhagen, the poet and telegraph-director Peter Faber had recently demonstrated the principle of telegraphing for him. (Faber is the author of the Danish Christmas carol "Højt fra Træets grønne Top" (On the Green Tip of the Tree). The telegraph line Elsinore - Copenhagen - Fredericia - Hamburg was laid out in 1852-1853 and opened 1st February 1854. Use of the telegraph was thus demonstrated to HCA while it was still only the employees who practised on the line.
Peter Faber telegraphed up to the staff in Elsinore and told them that HCA was standing next to him. The staff in Elsinore replied by quoting:

"Every skipper has a wife", or as HCA writes in a letter dated 3rd June to Hauch: "[....] the entire first verse of one of my own oldest poems, written, I believe, during my school-days in Elsinore. I felt strangely overwhelmed by the enormity of the invention; it was as though I stood beneath the beating wings of an infinitely powerful spirit [...] I feel and see God's infinite love also in every new insight which he allows us into the laws and powers of nature, and the elevated power he thereby grants mankind [...] the material substance we gain is, after all, like the framework for building the temple of the spirit; people are drawn closer to each other; ideas may be exchanged more easily, more and more, we become one people, one nation of spirit. During the past few years, I have become so very interested in science. I am convinced that had I been as aware of its magnificence twenty years ago as I am now, I would probably have taken an avenue in life other than the one I now follow, or rather; I would have attained knowledge within such fields that my authorship would have blossomed quite differently than is now the case".

8 June

After a journey via Kalundborg and Århus, arrival in Vilhelmsborg (visiting Baroness Gyldenkrone), where he stays until 26th June.

1853: Visit to Silkeborg

20 June

Fuglen i Pæretræet (The Bird in The Pear Tree), which had first been performed at the Royal Theatre 1842, is now staged at the Casino Theatre. Here it is performed 17 times during HCA's life.

26 June

Learns that cholera has broken out in Copenhagen.

27 June

Arrives in Silkeborg, where he is a guest of Amalie (Malle) and Michael Drewsen until 15th July. During the stay he goes on a outing to the heath, where he sees a mirage and gypsies. Also takes a ride on a barge on the Gudenå (river).

8 July

Receives news that the psalm writer and playwright Pastor C.J. Boye has died of cholera:

"During the past few years he was so very acknowledging and sympathetic towards me that he had become very dear to me" (in Mit Livs Eventyr (The Fairy Tale of My Life).

16 July

Takes the steam-ship from Horsens to Bogense on Funen. Continues to Odense, where Skt. Knuds market is in progress. From here he goes to Glorup Estate, where he stays until 1st August. Here he takes part in the silver anniversary celebration of Count Adam Moltke-Hvidfeldt (large folk celebration).
During the stay at Glorup, Countess Elise Moltke-Hvitfeldt draws a portrait of HCA.
Hears that Oline Thyberg (mother of Edvard Collin's wife, Henriette) and Emilie Hornemann (a niece of Mrs Collin the senior) have died of cholera. HCA feels quite ill and decides to return to Silkeborg rather than go to Copenhagen. Calculates his monthly expenses at this time to 50 rdl.

3 August

Arrival in Silkeborg, where he remains until 6th September. Silkeborg and the area around this developing industrial town gives HCA a characteristic double view, which he mentions to Ingemann in a letter dated 23rd August:
Concerning the blossoming heath he says:

"This peculiar loneliness, which causes ones thoughts both to fly out into space and equally to grasp for strong roots within oneself, could surely create a poet. Few places in Denmark - and with these it is the near-by open sea which makes the difference - appeal to me as does the area around Silkeborg; these mighty knolls of heather lend the whole area a wonderfully moving grandeur"

He then continues the letter - probably inspired by the book Robert Fulton by Hauch, which he had finished reading at Ingemann's:

"As you know, there is a barge-service from here to Randers and back; the other day, the first steam-ship to Silkeborg came from up there, quite small and flat-bottomed, but still powered by steam; it was like a cultural rocket surging through the ancient countryside".

Sitting in the heather on the moor, HCA writes the poem "Dampskibet Gudenaa" (The Steamship Gudenaa). Travels from Silkeborg through Vejle, Middelfart and Odense (overnighting despite rumours of cholera being in the town) and on to Sorø.

1853: Collected Works

8 September

Stays with the Ingemanns for one week.

15 September

Returns to Copenhagen (the almanac: "we then drove into cholera town").

2 October

First mention in the almanac of Clara Heinke, a female German portrait painter (then 28 years of age) from Breslau. On this day, HCA writes that he has received a letter from her from Berlin. Later, a life-long correspondence between the two developed. It seems likely that she had strong feelings for HCA and that he also felt a certain interest.

3 October

Public notification in the newspaper Berlingske Tidende that the cholera epidemic is considered to be over.

22 October

Along with the other students from the year of 1828, HCA celebrates the 25th jubilee for those who became students in that year. The event is held at the Royal Rifle Range and HCA writes a song for the occasion. H.N. Clausen proposes a toast for Paludan-Müller and for HCA, while Madvig annoys HCA by making a toast to his wife!

7 November

The two first volumes of Samlede Skrifter (Collected Works) are published (including Improvisatoren (The Improvisatore)). The edition was to consist of 22 volumes of which 2 were released every other month up until July 1855. Volume 21 and 22 were Mit Livs Eventyr (The Fairy Tale of My Life).After this, new volumes were released with later works, to the edition included, at the time of HCA's death in 1875; a total of 28 volumes. In addition, there are 5 volumes from 1876, a supplementary volume to Mit Livs Eventyr 1877 and a final volume (poems) in 1879. A total of 33 volumes plus the supplementary volume.

The edition consisted of 2,000 copies.


HCA's article about the artists Jens Adolph and Elisabeth (nèe Baumann) Jerichau is printed in the Danish Folk Calendar for 1854. The Calendar also includes HCA's article on Silkeborg.


The poem "Silkeborg" is published in Almanak eller Huuskalender for 1854.

15 December

HCA is godfather for Nanny, the daughter of the artists Jens Adolph and Elisabeth Jerichau.

24 December

Christmas Eve is spent at the home of Jonas Collin.

25 December

Christmas at J.P.E. Hartmanns.

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