Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller

Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller
Published : 1 Nov 2000 - The Penguin Press, Knopf (US)
The first English language biographer to have returned to the original Danish sources, Wullschläger creates a fascinating picture of Andersen as a deeply troubled man. Desperately sensitive, sexually confused and socially awkward, Andersen found grace and acceptance through the creation of a distinct and beguiling literary world, becoming, as once was said of Tolkien, ‘the creative equivalent of a people’. Wullschläger demonstrates the unity of his troubled life and the soaring achievement of his work, bringing him to life at once flawed, unique and utterly impressive.


In my view it is the best book ever written about Hans Christian Andersen. If someone had asked me a couple of months ago which biography of Andersen was the best I would immodestly have said my own work, but today I would answer that the best book is the one written by Jackie Wullschlager. Not only is is a fuller and more comprehensive biography, but it is the first book ever to place Andersen in a contemporary European tradition and to measure him with a European yardstick.

Elias Bredsdorff, Emeritus Professor of Scandinavian Languages at Cambridge

Finely documented and insightful . . . Jackie Wullschlager's account . . . is a delight . . . her work gives off a classic sparkle. It will bring joy . . .

George Steiner, Observer

Splendid . . . authoritative . . . gracefully written [and] meticulously referenced . . . will encourage many readers to revisit an author who undoubtedly deserves serious critical attention.

Christina Hardyment, Financial Times

Intensively researched and elegantly written.

Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times

An extraordinarily accomplished biography, both intellectually rigorous and emotionally wise . . . fascinating . . . Wullschlager wears her learning lightly but still we are left feeling we are in the hands of an expert guide.

Kathryn Hughes, Literary Review