Feature: Lizzie Guilfoyle
AN EXHIBITION aptly entitled The Hans Christian Andersen
Exhibition celebrates the bicentenary of the Danish author's
birth. It runs until October 2, 2005, at the British Library
in Euston Road.
Not only does it reveal Andersen's strange and enigmatic character,
but focuses on the impact of his work in Britain and examines
the underlying themes of his fiction. For instance, many believe
that he was speaking of himself in The Ugly Duckling.
A special section is devoted to his two visits to Britain - in
1847 and 1857 - in particular, to his meeting and ultimately disappointing
friendship with Charles Dickens.
While material from the archives
of his London publisher, Richard Bentley, as well as his first
letter to his English translator, Mary Howitt, illustrate how
his work became known in Britain.
And key stories - The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The
Little Match Girl, The Tin soldier and The Nightingale
- are used to examine particular features of Andersen's
contribution to English literature, including some of the darker
aspects of his writing - the destructive power of nature and his
obsession with the deceptive imagery of theatre.
The exhibition also looks at Andersen's later, lesser-known works,
written primarily for adults and tackling subjects such as contemporary
technical advancements and the nature of art; the latter including
critical appraisals of his own work as an artist.
To this end, visitors can expect to see original manuscripts
not only from the British library's own collection but, for the
first time, from Denmark itself. And children will love the Shadow-dancing
puppets and ornate toy theatre.
Finally, above the exhibition hangs a magnificent white swan
- a reminder of who the ugly duckling became.