Hans Christian Andersen, one of the world's greatest storytellers, is born in Odensk, near Copenhagen.
During Andersen's boyhood, his father died, and the child went to work in a factory briefly. However, he showed great talent for languages and entered the University of Copenhagen in 1828. The following year, he published his literary spoof A Walk from Amager, which became his first important work.
Andersen wrote several plays that flopped, but he achieved some success with his novel The Improviser (1835). Meanwhile, he entertained himself by writing a series of children's stories that he published as collections. The first, Tales Told for Children, (1835) included "The Princess and the Pea." Andersen released new collections every year or two for decades as he traveled widely in Europe, Africa, and Asia Minor. His stories include "The Ugly Duckling," "The Little Mermaid," and "The Emperor's New Clothes." He died in 1875 at age 70.
Originally published on History.com.