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


At være eller ikke være (To Be or Not To Be)
Visiting Dickens
Meets Clara Heinke

1857: At være eller ikke være (To Be or Not To Be)

In this year

Release of a collected edition in German of Historier (Stories) including the illustrations by Vilh. Pedersen (slightly expanded version compared to the Danish one from spring 1855). This edition is published by Lorck's successor, L. Wiedeman from Leipzig. This is a realisation of Lorck's original initiative regarding the tales from 1848, although the stories were actually published in Danish, two years before the German edition.

3 January

Returns to Copenhagen from Basnæs Estate.

4 January

Death of Georg Carstensen, the founder of Tivoli Gardens and the Casino Theatre. At the time of his death, Carstensen lives in the utmost of poverty.

8 May

HCA attends a dinner party given by the politician C.C. Hall. Amongst the guests is Grundtvig, a Danish priest, poet, writer and historian. As instigator of the movement for enlightenment by the people, which led to establishment of the Danish folk high-schools, Grundtvig is a significant figure in Danish history.

17th - 20th May

Visits the queen dowager at Sorgenfri Castle, where he reads aloud from his new novel. The queen is moved to tears by the ending.

20 May

Release of At være eller ikke at være (To Be or Not To Be). The novel is released in English and German at the same time. It is a 'Bildungsroman' (novel depicting personal development) and a religious novel of debate, dealing with the intensifying materialism (the philosophical materialism) of the day. The novel also relates the crisis concerning the philosophy of life to the national crisis (the three year war).

1857: Visiting Dickens

30 May

Departure from Copenhagen for the purpose of visiting Dickens, who has invited him to stay. 1 day at Sorø Academy, 3 at Basnæs Estate, then via Korsør to Kiel. From there to Altona, Harburg, Uelzen, Hannover, Hamn, Cologne, Aachen, Brussels, Calais and Dover, arriving on 11th in London. Goes immediately to Dicken's country home, Gads Hill at Higham.

11th June - 15 July

Staying with Dickens, partly at Gad's Hill, partly at Tavistock House in London. Hears Händel's Messias at Chrystal Palace. Spends quite some time with the publisher Bentley and his family, occasionally staying a day or two with them at St. John's Wood. Is very aware that his lengthy stay is not appreciated by the other members of Dicken's family, especially the children. Learns, by and by, to speak and read a certain amount of English .

5 July

First mention in the diary of Anna Bjerring, a 25-year old teacher from Ålborg, a town in the north of Denmark. On this day, HCA notes that he has received a letter from "Anna in Aalborg". This wording implies that they were already acquainted or had an even greater degree of familiarity, which indeed seems likely in light of her writing to him during his stay in England. (The first mention of her in the almanac is from 1858, a birthday greeting to him from "Anna in Aalborg"). From this time on, a life-long correspondence develops and they meet in person on several occasions. There is no doubt that she had strong feelings for HCA and did what she could to get him. At her death (1902) she took the letters from him with her in the grave!

15 July

Drives to Maidstone, where he takes leave of Dickens. By ship to France from Folkestone. Via Boulogne and Amiens to Paris. Is in Paris from 17th - 21st. The stay here is embittered by his reading negative reviews of the novel. Continues via Strasbourg, where in the cathedral he sees:

"a unity, like that which is present in every work of nature. One would think it had been created by nature itself", (the diary, 22nd July).

Then on through Mannheim, Frankfurt and Guntershausen to Leipzig (arriving 25th). Visits the publishers Lorck and Wiedemann and continues on the next day to Dresden, where he is met by the Serres.

27 July

Goes with the Serres from Dresden to see the estate of the pianist and composer Adolf Henselt in Schlesien. Mrs Henselt has a portrait of HCA hanging in the bedroom. During the stay here, Pastor Robert Matthäi draws (29th July) HCA reading "The Little Mermaid" at Gersdorf.

1857: Meets Clara Heinke

30 July

Back to Dresden with the Serrres. Is mainly at Maxen until 31st August, but in between he also stays in Dresden with the Serres..

11 August

First meeting with the painter Clara Heinke, who HCA had corresponded with during the past 4 years. In a letter she suggests a meeting in Dresden (during which her aunt acts as chaperone). HCA feels that she looks somewhat Jewish. Spends some time with her during the next few days and notes on 13th:

"All the ladies teased me [...] for having been so charming towards the young lady today. Clara Heinke seems to be an intelligent girl. She was very cordial towards me".

1st - 6th September

In Weimar, where he joins the grand duke in celebrating the unveiling of the statues of Goethe and Schiller (feels he and Schiller look alike). Meets Liszt and attends a concert with orchestral music by Liszt;

" was wild, melodious and unclear. Sometimes symbols were sounded. When I first heard it I thought a plate had been dropped. I went home weary; it was that damned music", (the diary, 5th).

6 September

Travels home via Kassel, Hannover and Hamburg. Takes the steamship Eideren from Kiel to Korsør. Goes straight to Copenhagen, rather than stopping at Sorø, due to illness.

14 September

Due to another outbreak of cholera in the city, HCA leaves Copenhagen again. Goes to Roskilde, where he stays with Dean Ortved. Continues to the Ingemanns in Sorø on 17th. Receives a visit here from the poet Fr. Paludan-Müller and his wife. Paludan-Müller is an old school-friend of HCA. Continues on 26th to Slagelse, where he is met by Mrs Scavenius and her children and taken to Basnæs Estate. Is sick most of the time spent here. Has a heated discussion about religion with Mrs Scavenius.

19 October

Returns to Copenhagen.

4 December

The gas lighting is turned on for the first time in Copenhagen. The story "Gudfaders Billdedbog" (Godfather's Picture Book) is a series of depictions from the history of Copenhagen, from darkness to enlightened times - both literally and ideologically. The book describes the transition from the use of oil to gas for street-lighting as confirmation that a new age of enlightenment and humanity had begun.

5 December

Opening performance at the rebuilt Royal Theatre with a prologue by HCA.

18 December

Travels to Sorø, continuing on 20th to Basnæs Estate.

31 December

HCA's assets amount to 6,462 rdl. (of which 5,000 are "solid" assets, consisting e.g. of 2,500 on loan to Edvard Collin at 4% interest, the rest being available assets).

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