Eventyr, Fortalte for Børn [Fairy Tales Told for Children]

ANDERSEN, Hans Christian

ANDERSEN, Hans Christian Eventyr, Fortalte for Børn [Fairy Tales Told for Children]

C.A.Reitzel, 1837.

First edition in book form, bound from the three parts,as issued with introduction by the author. 78x120mm. Contemporary half speckled calf over marbled boards. A very good copy which is worn to the outer corners and edges of the boards, but entirely unrepaired and retaining bright gilt to the spine. Internally, marking or browning to some pages, but overall a handsome and well preserved copy. Housed in a later red, half morocco, clamshell box.

The first edition of Andersen's first collection of fairy tales, which includes the first appearance of some of his most famous stories, namely 'The Princess and the Pea', 'Thumbelina', 'The Little Mermaid', 'The Tinder Box' and 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.
Prior to writing fairy tales, Andersen had written a couple of volumes of poetry and a novel all of which had met with quiet approval from the critics. His 1830 volume of poems contained a story called, 'The Ghost, a Fairy Tale from Funen'. With the story he wrote, "As a child it was my greatest joy to listen to fairy tales... it is my intention, provided it meets with approval, to retell several, and some day publish a cycle of Danish folk tales."
It would seem that the idea engendered no immediate enthusiasm from publishers, but some five years later, on New Year's Day 1835, Andersen wrote to his friend, Henriette Hanck, saying, "I am now starting several "Children's Tales," and you must know that I shall try to conquer future generations.". So it was in May of that year that a small pamphlet, containing the first four tales, appeared in print. Two further pamphlets followed in December 1835 and April 1837 and these three were bound into a single volume with a new title page, table of contents and introduction, in which Andersen remarks with almost comic prescience,
"With this third pamphlet the Fairy Tales are now gathered in one little volume. It will depend on the impression it makes on the public if this is to be the only one. A poet is always a poor man in his own little country. Fame is therefore the golden bird he has to catch! Time will tell of I catch it by telling Fairy Tales."
The pamphlets received quietly encouraging reviews, but were regarded by critics as mere bagatelles written between more serious endeavours. However, with the publication in book form and the subsequent translation into German, news of these new fairy stories spread. By 1842 Andersen had completed three more pamphlets and his first set was being reprinted. In 1846 the book was translated into English (in four separate translations) and by 1847 Andersen made a very successful tour of England, during which he was feted by society and famously met Charles Dickens with whom he kept an acquaintance over the following ten years. Andersen had achieved the fame he craved and went on to write 162 fairy tales in total, although it is still for the ones in this initial volume that he best known.
"Since the first appearance of Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales in London and New York in 1846, over seven hundred different editions, included dozens of varied translations, illustrated by more than a hundred different artists, have been published in the United States and England alone." - Jean Hersholt (Catalog of the Jean Hersholt Collection of Hans Christian Andersen).
"The Tales of Hans Andersen are unique. Unlike Perrault's or Grimm's his stories were original inventions... he brought his own childlike imagination and a creative faculty and originality strangely lacking in his other writings. Over and above their intrinsic merit Andersen's stories signalised a new and fundamentally different approach to the writing of books for children. Mawkishness, didacticism, and moral proselytising were totally abjured and he was the harbinger of a new era in this genre" - PMM
The first issue is also of exceptional scarcity,
"...in the process of rebinding, a pamphlet of the second printing was in many cases substituted for one of the first printing, and so it was that a complete copy... is one of the greatest rarities in Danish literature" - Jean Hersholt Collection
In modern commerce copies are almost unknown. ABPC shows only one copy (the Manney copy in 1991) at auction in the last 40 years.

PMM 299. Hersholt Collection 22 (p. 23-27)

Stock ID: 33032

£37,500.00

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