About Hans Christian Andersen

About Hans Christian Andersen
By: Melanie Zimmer

a side view of hans christian andersen in a sepia toned photoSome of the most memorable fairy tales to this day are those of Hans Christian Andersen. A great deal is known about Andersen as he wrote his first autobiography when he was twenty-seven and published additional ones in 1847, 1855 and 1869. However, “The Fairy Tale of My Life” is not considered a reliable work by many, and it is known that Andersen altered facts freely to create the public image he desired in those later publications. Andersen became a well-known figure in his own lifetime, achieving much acclaim, and lived as a public figure frequently visiting kings, nobles, and artistic minds of the time thus much was written about him in letters and correspondence. Furthermore, Anderson kept a personal journal over the years and corresponded frequently with others. Many letters still exist and serve to inform biographers of the non-public aspects of his life. But perhaps most importantly, Anderson used his life experiences extensively in his writings as he explains plainly in a letter from 1834 “Every character is taken from life; every one of them; not one of them is invented. I know and have known them all.”

Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in a small rented home in Odense, Denmark. He was the son of a poor shoemaker, Hans Andersen, and the approximately thirty-year-old Anne Marie Andersdatter, an illiterate, superstitious peasant woman who was later instrumental in introducing young Christian, as they sometimes called Hans Christian, to the folklore stories that were to later help mold his own writings. Andersen’s parents married in February of 1805. (Anne Marie, after the death of her husband, Hans Andersen, married another cobbler, but they were even less financially successful than before, and eventually, she was widowed a second time, and forced to make a living as a washerwoman, laundering clothes in the icy canals of Odense. There, to escape the freezing waters, she developed the habit of drinking gin to warm herself. In his tale, “She Was Good For Nothing,” Andersen gives a portrait of his mother Anne Marie as an alcoholic washerwoman, as well as revealing himself as a child, although we must realize that Andersen had already moved to Copenhagen by the time his mother became a widowed laundress.) Anne Marie was a clean housekeeper, and protective of her son. She, herself, had been forced to beg as a child, and later Andersen used his mother’s childhood experience as the basis for “The Little Match Girl.” Anne Marie had an illegitimate daughter, Karen-Marie, who was rarely seen, and a half-sister to Hans Christian. She was the daughter of a married potter, and was not raised as part of the family but boarded out. Karen-Marie at one point became a prostitute, and Andersen feared throughout his life that she would re-appear to embarrass him, although she came to him only on several occasions.
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#NSNStoryCon with Sam Payne at The Apple Seed

mr sam payneSean Buvala caught up with storyteller, musician and radio-host Sam Payne while “The Apple Seed” radio program was making friends and making recordings at the 2014 National Storytelling Network Summer Conference in Mesa, Arizona. You can hear Sean and Sam discuss the diverse BYU radio program, an abundance of Sams and just how making friends makes it all work out. A recorded-late-night interview all about the art of storytelling.

You can hear the entire interview in the link down below the transcript and video. Keep on scrolling for more!


Voiceover: (music) You’ve just entered the Storyteller.net Amphitheater (music stops)

Sean Buvala: Hey! Sean Buvala at the National Storytelling Network 2014 Annual Conference in Mesa, Arizona. Why are we sitting here at eleven o’clock at night? My guest this time around is Sam Payne who is the host and probably other stuff he will tell me about for The Apple Seed (TAS). Is it coming out of BYU?
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Act It Out

If you’re feeling rusty as a storyteller and sense the need for a little guidance and direction, I’d like to suggest you audition for a role in a local community-theater production. In the arena of storytelling, I am finding that the experience and training resident in stage work is directly transferable to our tellings.

I was recently cast in the supporting role of Col. Kenneth Penmark in a local production of the stage/movie thriller “Bad Seed.” It was not the role I auditioned for but I accepted it because I believed that whatever I was to learn from the director, I could apply to storytelling. I was not disappointed in the experiment.

I recall one evening’s rehearsal when the director was trying to draw from one of the other supporting cast members a character other than what he was presenting. He was playing an author/criminologist named Tasker. At one scene during the rehearsal, the director called out, “OK, stop for a minute.” She walked up to Tasker and said, “Let’s spend a minute and try to find this guy’s voice. I don’t think Tasker grew up in a well-to-do home, went to Harvard, received a degree in criminology, and then went on to write 75 novels. I see him as one who came up from the streets. Middle class working home. He probably got a job with the local newspaper as a copy-boy and worked his way up. Someone probably just saw that he had a talent for writing and gave him an opportunity to do a story. From then on, he was hooked. He didn’t learn criminology from college; he learned it from the streets. Play him that way.”
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Using Prompts to Create Storytelling

-by Ellouise Schoettler

bottom view of a an old book on a table the book has a red cover and the edges of the paper are gold colorPeople ask how I craft the personal stories I tell. “They come from prompts.” By that, I mean that if I pay attention, I find that anything and everything can lead me to a possible story. It will work for you too. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples of how I gather material for stories.

We furnished our get-away in PA with cast-off stuff. When I notice what is around me there, story possibilities emerge. For instance, I use an old suitcase in my bedroom to hold art supplies. This suitcase was a high school graduation present from my parents. This old and frayed suitcase is my connection to a host of stories from specific trips to the nylon stockings ripped to shreds by its scratchy woven sides.
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Laryngitis Amongus- Tips and Suggestions

a cup of tea on a saucer. you can see the tag from the teabag. the cup and saucer are white china(This article originally appeared in 2002. It’s not medical advice. Consult with a health professional if you have medical needs.)

Insert melodramatic music, storytellers. Recently, right before a storytelling gig, I woke up unable to talk. Oh, I knew something had been brewing in my body, as I had felt in ill health for a day or so. In fifteen and more years of speaking, I had never had a case of laryngitis. Was it time to panic? “Where could I turn? What can I do? Who will pay the rent? Save me, my heroes.”

Enter the “Storytell Listserv-” four hundred men and women who love stories and telling and freely share their ideas and tips. I asked the list for some emergency recovery tips. Thanks to the members of the “Storytell” list, (who took time to send me their great ideas), I finally settled on a combination of Echinacea and a fine peppermint tea.

Here are the great tips sent by the Storytell list, which Charlene, our new Village-Post editor, has consolidated and accredited. Now, remember, we here at Storyteller.net aren’t doctors and aren’t even pretending to prescribe treatment for you. Use any of these suggestions at your own risk- always consult a physician if you are ill.
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