Kathryn Hughes

The Swan of Odense Had a Taste for the Quality

Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller

By

Allen Lane The Penguin Press 481pp £20 order from our bookshop

As it turns out, Hans Christian Andersen did look a bit like Danny Kaye, the Hollywood comic prince who portrayed him in the schmaltzy biopic of 1952. Lanky, clown-footed and with eager, mobile features, Andersen grew handsome only in middle age, when accomplishment and celebrity settled a kind of self-confidence upon him. Until then, he was an ugly duckling, waiting to become a swan.

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