Let me tell you about an amazing fairytale writer named Hans Christian Andersen. You’ve probably heard of this very famous author, who is well known for his fairytales. But have you heard the story he wrote about a teapot? If not, then you’re in for a particularly special treat!
We’ll share an overview of this little-known tale by Andersen and then share some exciting details about this extraordinary writer’s life!
The Teapot by Hans Christian Andersen: An Overview
The Teapot (originally titled Theepotten) is a story written by Hans Christian Andersen. Unfortunately, not many people know about this story by the famous author!
The tale is all about a teapot, which rules over the tea spread each day. The teapot is very proud of the fact she’s made of porcelain and proud of her spout and handle, too. She talked continuously about how lovely these features of hers were.
However, she didn’t want to say anything about her lid, which was cracked. The reason? She thought not speaking about her defects was best. If her defects were mentioned, then others in the tea service, including the cream pot and the sugar bowl, would talk about the tea pot’s lid imperfections. This should be avoided at all costs!
Even so, the teapot realized she was not perfect, but she still took joy in serving Chinese tea on the tea table.
As the teapot aged, she still remembered her imperfections and took pleasure in providing her people with wonderful Chinese tea. Then one day, the teapot was dropped. Her spout and handle were broken off, which made her no longer useful for serving tea.
After this horrible thing happened, the teapot was given to another. And she began a more humble life. Near the end of the story, the teapot is very gratified to become home to a beautiful flower bulb! In other words, the teapot is then used as a flowerpot, in which this bulb grows. Eventually, people say the flower should be in a more beautiful spot. At this point, the teapot is then emptied and takes up residence in an old shed.
Even after all of this, the teapot remembers the glory she once was, as well as the beautiful flower she helped to bring forth from the bulb. She says no one can take these memories away from her, even though she’s only out in the shed now.
What a wonderful tale! This is a quick retelling of this lovely fairytale, but we love this story. It’s something like The Velveteen Rabbit, in that the story is a reminder that we’re all valuable, no matter our condition.
The tale was first published in December 1863 in Folkekalender for Danmark. Andersen was famous for his ability to write personalities for just about anything, including the teapot in this fantastic story.
Who Was Christian Andersen?
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author famous for his children’s stories. He wrote some tales we still find entrancing, including The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. These stories were similar, in some ways, to the teapot’s tale in that they also were stories all about transformation into something that was even lovelier than the original form.
Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in Odense, Denmark. When he was about eleven years old, his father, Hans Andersen Sr., died. The young Andersen and his mother were then left alone. Thankfully they were not left destitute, and young Andersen was able to attend excellent boarding schools for those who were privileged.
There are always rumors about the origins of famous people, and Andersen had plenty of rumors about his beginnings. There were stories told that he was an illegitimate child of a Danish royal. While this is an interesting story, the rumor was never proven. And this doesn’t take away from the very interesting person Andersen came to be!
What is sure and true is that his parents somewhat spoiled the young Andersen. They allowed him (thankfully!) to develop a very creative imagination when playing with his toys. This was the beginning of the imagination he continued to develop into his famous writing career.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Writing Career
Andersen went on to graduate from college in 1828 and wrote his first poem, The Dying Child. The poem was first published in the Copenhagen Post. After his university studies were completed, Andersen traveled through Italy in 1833 and was inspired to write his first novel, The Improvisatore (1835). His novel brought him international fame!
After this, Andersen wrote five more novels; however, they didn’t doas as well as his first. It turns out the young man was a better playwright than a novelist!
Andersen then found that he loved writing fairy tales. Most of his best work was done between 1835 and 1850. The stories he wrote during these years include:
- The Princess on the Pea (1835)
- Thumbelina (1835)
- The Steadfast Tin Soldier (1838)
- The Snow Queen (1844
- The Darning Needle (1845)
- The Little Match Girl (1845)
- The Shirt Collar (1848)
As you read through this list, don’t you feel the urge to go back and read these amazing tales?
People loved the fact that Andersen’s tales were filled with emotions and ordeals, ultimately finishing in happy endings. Who doesn’t love a happy ending, even today? In his stories, the main characters learn about the real world, a cold, cruel place.
Some believe that these aspects of Andersen’s tales were somewhat autobiographical. For instance, the ugly duckling story, which describes an ugly duckling’s transformation into a beautiful swan, was thought to represent Andersen as a young man. He was somewhat tall and bony when young. Many thought he looked slightly awkward at that age.
Andersen also went through some times of poverty in his youth, just like some of the main characters in his stories. Many also believe his stories show distrust of authority, which he may have experienced as a young man.
Ultimately, Andersen’s writing style and language developed. He focused his writing efforts on stories for younger readers, even though some of his fairy tales did involve more adult themes.
It was in 1845 that Andersen’s folktales began to draw international attention. He then became friends with Charles Dickens, the famous British novelist. Andersen even visited Dickens in England in 1847 and once again about ten years later.
Over time, Andersen’s stories became English language classics. His popularity continues around the world to this day! Who has never heard or read the stories and fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen?
Hans Christian Andersen suffered a severe injury in 1872. He fell out of his bed at his home in Copenhagen. His final publication came out the same year. This was a compilation of stories.
It was also around the same time that Andersen developed symptoms of liver cancer. It was from cancer that Andersen was snatched from this life. He died on August 4, 1875, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
After his death, the Danish government commemorated Andersen’s life and work. They put together plans to create a statue for his honor. Many considered the author to be a national treasure.
Interesting Facts About Hans Christian Andersen
Here are some interesting facts about Andersen’s life!
1). Andersen’s version of The Little Mermaid is more depressing than Disney’s version.
Andersen wrote this story in 1837, making it a very dark tale that was not very appropriate for kids. You remember that the mermaid (who doesn’t have a name in Andersen’s version of the story) falls in love with a prince. The prince lives on land, so the mermaid wants to become human to fall in love and gain an immortal soul (as well as marry the prince!).
However, after she becomes human, the mermaid’s prince marries another woman. At this point, the mermaid then considers killing the prince. Instead, she throws herself into the sea, where she dissolves into foam. The mermaid there meets some spiritual creatures who say they’ll help her get to heaven if she does good things for 300 years. That’s where the story ends! Who knew?
2). It appears that Andersen wore out his welcome when staying with Dickens!
When visiting Dickens’ home in England, it was arranged that Andersen would stay for about two weeks. However, he ended up staying five weeks! Talk about the houseguest who never goes home! Dickens and his family weren’t too happy about this, but what could they do?
It seems that Andersen was a moody character, and sometimes he would throw tantrums during his visit with Dickens. At one time, he threw himself face down on the grass and sobbed his heart out after reading some very bad reviews of his books. Well, maybe he was somewhat of a temperamental artist, but that’s OK. He did leave us some wonderful tales, after all!
When Hans Christian Andersen finally left Dickens’s home, Dickens put up a note that read, “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks—which seemed to the family AGES!” Doesn’t that just sound like Dickens?
3). Andersen always had a fear of being buried alive.
It’s said that Andersen had many phobias, one of which was his fear of being buried alive. He was afraid of accidentally being declared dead and then buried alive! So, each night before bed, he put up a note that said, “I only appear to be dead.”
Now, the question is, what happened when he really did die? Was the note propped up beside him at the time?
4). Andersen may have been celibate for his entire life.
While Andersen did live a long life, he was never comfortable with personal relationships. He was never able to come by a happy ending of his own. He did fall in love with several women over his life; however, it seems his feelings may not have been returned.
His biographer, Bente Kjoel, wrote that he thought Andersen probably never even had a romantic relationship his whole life. He believed the author was celibate the entire time.
5). Andersen may have been religious.
During the time Andersen lived, belief in God was very strong. It’s thought that Andersen was probably at least somewhat religious because of the religious themes that often ran through his tales.
However, when reading through his notes, diaries, and some other writings, it’s evident that Andersen also struggled with bitterness, emptiness, and skepticism when it came to his faith. However, he did write a poem called “Psalme” (1864), which is still found in the Danish hymnbook to this day.
6). Hans Christian Andersen was considered a national treasure in Denmark.
The author was loved in his own country, and the Danes declared Andersen to be a national treasure when he was in his late sixties, just before his death. Unfortunately, it was around this time that the writer began to show signs of liver cancer.
The Danish government paid Andersen a stipend and began to construct a statue to his honor at the King’s Garden in Copenhagen. The statue was supposed to honor the writer’s 70th birthday. Andersen did live to see his 70th birthday; however, he died about four months later.
Today, if you visit his statue, you can still find tributes left to honor Andersen. There’s even a second statue to honor him, located near a street that’s also named after Andersen. You’ll also find a sculpture of the little mermaid situated on the Langelinje Pier.
There’s no question about Andersen’s contribution to children’s literature and fairy tales. His stories are still read and cherished to this day!
While he may not have had an easy life, it’s obvious that he used experiences from his life to write his stories.
The story of the teapot, which we related shortly at the beginning of this article, provides an overview of Andersen’s tales and his incredible writing talent. His stories continue to bring pictures and images from long ago into our lives today.
Who couldn’t benefit from reading Andersen’s writings, even today?