Friday, April 2, 2010


is for Queens and Quests

One of my passions in life is fairy tales.  Give me a story with a queen, a prince, a tower, a quest, a cat in swashbuckler boots, or a cursed frog, and I will lose myself in it.  That's why I am happy to celebrate the birth of one of the great literary fairy tale writers, Hans Christian Andersen, who turns 205 today.  Unlike the Brothers Grimm, who gathered, altered, and published several editions of traditional oral fairy tales, most of Andersen's tales were original works, including The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, The Red Shoes, The Nightingale, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Little Mermaid (Disney's version is very different from the original, which is absolutely beautiful), Thumbelina, and the tale that many consider to be his masterpiece, The Snow Queen.  The Snow Queen illustration above is from an edition of Andersen's tales published in 1911 with illustrations by one of my favorite fairy tale illustrators, Edmund Dulac.  

If you're reading this post today, April 2, you might want to fly on over to Google to see their tribute to Andersen.  And if you're a fan of fairy tales, too, there's a lovely recent collection of his works edited and annotated by the wonderful Maria Tatar.

In many ways, Andersen's own life was a quest for recognition, which he eventually received, and for love that he never found.  While he wrote memoirs that colored his life as a fairy tale, the truth of his life was far from enchanted.  His tales are achingly beautiful, often satirical (read The Nightingale for a scathing portrait of aristocrats), explorations of love, the quest for spirituality, and the importance of the artist in society.  

A special note of thanks today to all my blogging friends.  Your comments and sense of community inspire me and teach me.  Have a wonderful weekend, and if you celebrate Easter, may it be a blessed and peaceful day of joy.  xo


  1. oh boy...i saw that on GOOGLE and thought...what is that? Huh? :- {

    loved reading all of this post...wonderful as always, my friend


  2. Lovely and interesting post Gigi. It is great that google are also celebrating.

  3. I love his work, and particularly the illustrations that went with it. I had not seen that google's fabulous!

  4. Oh Gigi, I love this about you. Fairy tales are my favorite to read and even make up. Happy 205th Birthday to Hans Christian Andersen! And how cool of Google to do that.

  5. Dear Gigi,
    Oh, when I was young, I had a really large book of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales which was my favourite book. It had the most beautiful coloured plates, which brought the stories to life. I wish that I still had it.
    They took me to magical worlds with wonderful characters that I dreamt about. How brilliant to have been able to write those fables and to give children such pleasure and to take them to such wonderful fantasy worlds.
    Wishing you a wonderful long weekend, Gigi. XXXX

  6. I too am a lover of fairy tales, so this was a great post for me. I remember seeing the 'Red Shoes' as a ballet when I was quite young and just being mesmerized because it really was magical. Happy Easter to you too!

  7. Happy Birthday, Mr. Andersen. Our world is far the richer because of you.

    And Happy Easter to you and yours, Gigi!

  8. Yes, I saw that on Google. This is a wonderful post. I want to wish you a
    Beautiful Easter Sunday..


  9. I used to love fairy tales. Why don't I read them any more? I think I will now!

  10. What a fabulous post, Gigi...I too had a big fairytale book of Hans Christian Anderson that I adored. I should find another copy and enjoy it all over again. Have a beautiful weekend filled with love and laughter! xxoo :)

  11. A wonderfully informative post. It's heartening to see Hans Christian Anderson getting well deserved tributes such as this.

  12. Dear Gigi, What a lovely, and informative, posting which I have enjoyed reading as much as looking at the delightful illustrations. How sweet of you to mark the 205th. birthday of HCA in this charming way.

    Incidentally, I love your header picture of the bicycles on the sand. Simply wonderful.

    My warmest wishes to you for a very happy and peaceful Easter time.

  13. I still have my childhood book of his fairytales, with only the dust cover missing, and I read it to my children now. The illustrations are by someone called Jiri Trnka, and are suitably both beautiful and slightly sinister on occasion! I wonder if this is the same one that some of your other readers had? (Pub. 1968)

    I still love his stories, in particular The Constant Tin Soldier, and The Tinder Box.

    What a great post Gigi! You've made me realise I probably haven't read any of these to the younger two!

    One last thing! Myself and Jay were in Copenhagen five years ago when they were celebrating 200 years, and it was wonderful to see him everywhere. They are very proud of him. But while there I discovered his Pappercuttings, which I had never known about, although I love Papercutting in general. They are incredible!

    C x

  14. Oh, Ciara, I love that you mentioned his papercuttings! I have been to the website for that museum, and I have a wonderful book of his papercuttings! Some of them are quite dark, aren't they? One in particular features a gallows with hearts.

    I love, too, that you read his stories to your kids from your own childhood book. That makes them even more special. xo

  15. Wonderful stories & illustrations...certainly brought back childhood memories Gigi!
    Happy Easter & much blessings~

  16. Happy Easter, my dear friend. A beautiful post indeed. I too love a good fairy tale.

  17. What a lovely tribute. I know so little about his personal life. Reading "for love that he never found" and thinking of the way he spent his life, writing these tales. It's so sad and yet beautiful at the same time. Also, the Edmund Dulac illustration you shared is wonderful. Thank you.

  18. the snow queen was my mother's favorite. i learned to love fairy tales from her. beautiful post.

  19. Oh curse being away from blogging. I can't believe I am late for this one. I was wondering why Google had such a beautiful header the other day... Being a fairy tale lover moi même ... your post has lifted my spirits and transported me to far away kingdoms. Now I'd better go and mow the lawn (watching out for Thumbelina all the while of course ;-)

  20. I can not believe I haven't commented here. Fairy tales are one of my passions. Oh how I love them! Have you read this book yet? I think you should. I know you'll love it.


Thank you so much for visiting and for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing from you.