A writer ahead of his time

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was a writer ahead of his time. Growing up in Odense, this nineteenth-century author wrote about a young girl who became a hero, the importance of being true to yourself, how inner beauty becomes apparent with the passage of time, and the value of independent thought.

He wrote women and girls as protagonists and prominent characters in some of his stories nearly a hundred years before women won the right to vote in his home country. While he is recognized as a Danish author, several of his stories were first published in the United States. As such, he influenced the development of the American consciousness – though this aspect is seldom recognized.

The Snow Queen tells the tale of a young girl who sacrifices her most prized posession and goes on a journey to rescue her friend. The Little Mermaid is a story about a mermaid who turns into seafoam after abandoning her true identity. The Ugly Duckling is about being different and finding out where you belong. The Emperor’s New Clothes is a warning about buying into the hype.

The tales of Hans Christian Andersen have stood the test of time and are arguably more relevant than ever in our modern world. In an era where corporations with limitless advertising power hire social media influencers to tell their friends, family, and followers about the latest trends and burgeoning tech that will add further convenience to our daily lives – may we remember that despite all the products clothes in expensive marketing, the emperor is indeed naked. In a time where women struggle to protect their rights, his tales remind us that anyone can become a powerful hero regardless of gender. Perhaps the greatest lesson he left us is that of the critical importance of never surrendering your true self. It is only when we abandon ourselves that all is truly lost.

Image from The Artifice
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