Hans Christian Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales, who have been translated into more than 125 languages, and have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective Consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. His stories have inspired ballets, plays, and animated and live-action films.
In Andersen’s early life, his private journal records his refusal to have sexual relations.
Andersen often fell in Love with unattainable women, and many of his stories are interpreted as references. A girl named Riborg Voigt was the unrequited Love of Andersen’s youth. A small pouch containing a long letter from Voigt was found on Andersen’s chest when he died, several decades after he first fell in Love with her, and after he presumably fell in love with others.
Other disappointments in Love included Sophie Ørsted, the daughter of his physicist and Louise Collin, the youngest daughter of his benefactor Jonas Collin. One of his stories, ‘The Nightingale’, was written as an expression of his passion for Jenny Lind and became the inspiration for her nickname, the ‘Swedish Nightingale’.
Andersen was often shy around women and had extreme difficulty in proposing to Lind. When Lind was boarding a train to go to an opera concert, Andersen gave Lind a letter of proposal. Her feelings towards him were not the same; she saw him as a brother.