The first person to illustrate the works of Hans Christian Andersen was Danish artist Vilhelm Pedersen — a naval officer who had a way with drawing. When the two met, Andersen’s writing was celebrated throughout Europe, and his popularity had soared thanks to help from several successful poems and rubbing elbows with the likes of Charles Dickens and other famous faces. Pedersen’s talents arrived on scene in 1849, and he was asked to illustrate a new, five volume collection that would include 125 drawings. They worked together for the next ten years, and today it’s hard to imagine an Andersen story without the delicate linework of Pedersen completing the picture.
The second part of the book, a study of the tales by Hans Christian Andersen, will be a revelation to most people for, as the author says, Andersen has long been relegated to the nursery and few adults realize the full extent of his wit, charm and fabulous dexterity as a storyteller. According toProfessor Dr. Elias Bredsdorff, the blame lies at the feet of the Victorian lady translators whose versions have unfortunately become sacrosanct. These women bowdlerized, mistranslated and sentimentalized most of the original works of Hans Christian Andersen. In fact they committed every kind of sin against the original appeal of Andersen's stories while converting his works into English from Danish language. The author, Professor Dr. Elias Bredsdorff, lets Andersen speak for himself and shows where his universal artistry as an author lies: the king who turned a somersault for joy saying “You never saw such a beauty” and the tin soldier's parade and the Snow Queen's promise to Kay of “the whole world and a pair of new skates.”