U is for ummm…. got it, The Ugly Duckling

U posed a problem, U did! But I finally found something I could feature today – the story of ‘The Ugly Duckling‘. This was part of a collection of stories, including .. Here are some interesting facts about the story Hans Christian Andersen wrote more than a 150 years ago.

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The first interesting thing that caught my eye was that Andersen spent an entire year writing this story! He wrote the story in 1842 while staying at the country estate of Bregentved. He initially titled it ‘The Young Swans’ but decided to rename it to maintain the surprise and have that twist at the end for his young readers. Years later, when asked about a possible autobiography by famed critic George Brandes (who was incidentally born the year Andersen wrote ‘The Ugly Duckling’), his answer was that he had already written it – ‘The Ugly Duckling’.  This story, along with the others published together with it in the ‘New Fairy Tales‘ in 1843, are considered among his most autobiographical fairy tales. In an interesting aside, while he took an year to write ‘The Ugly Duckling’, another story in this collection, ‘The Nightingale’ was written in all of 24 hours!

Like the ugly duckling, Andersen had a tough childhood, teased and mocked for his looks among other things, and around the time of the writing of this story, he had discovered a possible royal heritage (a metaphor for swans perhaps, as speculated by some). ‘The Ugly Duckling’ has since become his most popular fairy tale (my personal favorite of his tales is a rather sad one – ‘The Little Match Girl’ while ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and ‘The Nightingale’ are a close second) and has been adapted into theater, dance shows, as well as on the silver screen. The number of publications of this story around the world in various languages is simply astounding. While the book has its critics, it is safe to say that it has withstood the tests of time and place!

Some more trivia to share, about Andersen:

His birthday, April 2nd, is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.

His hometown of Odense, Denmark, holds an annual marathon in his honor – the H.C. Andersen Marathon, since 2000. You can see his childhood home there..

For those of you in the US of A, if you would like to have a glimpse into his life and works, you can visit Solvang (Danish for sunny field) in California and explore the Hans Christian Andersen Museum there.

Buy from the Book Outlet

Buy from the Book Depository – Retold/Illustrated by Lorinda Cauley

Buy from the Book Depository – Retold/Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
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This post goes towards ABC Wednesday‘s round 22 – letter U (my theme for ABC Wednesday’s Round 22 is children’s books – I will pick one popular (and sometimes the not so popular/the unknown) book – classic/modern/old/new… – and write about it – be it a backstory or facts or something else completely

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