I came upon a new cool fact today that I did not know about. Hans Christian Andersen, the creator of several children’s stories like “The little mermaid” and “The princess and the pea” and many more, was gay (or bisexual).
The story of the little mermaid is well known by children all over the world. A beautiful siren (half human and half fish) is fascinated with the human world. When she falls in love with a human prince, she makes a deal with an evil old lady that she will receive legs in exchange of her beautiful voice. She meets the prince – but he is to be married to another woman, a bride so pure that even the mermaid must acknowledge her beauty. If she was not to be married by the prince, she would turn into the foam of the sea.
Her sisters help her out by giving her a grace period and cutting their hair to give to the witch. She must in turn kill the prince so she can return back to the sea as a mermaid… but she cannot dig the dagger into the chest of her beloved. Because of her good dead, she becomes a daughter of the air, blowing beautiful smells around the country and gaining an immortal soul.
There is something sweet and longing in the original story, a sense of unfulfilled desire, a wish to be together with the loved one and the inability to do so.
Until today, I did not know why – but then I found out that Hans Christian Andersen had a big crush on his young friend Edvard Collin whom he lost in love to a woman.
“Our friendshp is like ‘The Mysteries’, it should not be analyzed,” and “I long for you as though you were a beautiful Calabrian girl.”
Like the mute Little Mermaid, Andersen could not tell the world of his own homosexual love for the people of the world, but the original manuscripts showed his feelings clearly. Although Andersen typically conducted one-sided infatuations with young men, he did experience a more reciprocal romantic friendship with the Hereditary Grand Duke of Weimar, Carl-Alexander von Saxe- Weimar-Eisenach, whom he met in 1844.
Yes, yes, my noble friend, I love you as a man can only love the noblest and best. This time I felt that you were still more ardent, more affectionate to me. Every little trait is preserved in my heart. On that cool evening, when you took your cloak and threw it around me, it warmed not only my body, but made my heart glow still more ardently.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN TO THE GRAND DUKE OF WEIMAR, Copenhagen 4th May 1848
How thoughtful of you to write me. I received the letter somewhat late, but, if it had not come at all, I should have known that I was not forgotten.
The agitations which are passing through the lands I feel to my finger tips. Denmark, my native country, and Germany, where there are so many whom I love, are standing opposite to each other in enmity! Your Royal Highness will be able to feel how all that pains me! I believe so firmly in the nobility of all men, and feel certain that if they only understood each other, everything would blossom in peace. Yet I did not wish to speak of politics, they stand far from me like a strange, distant cloud; but now they have spread over all Europe, and their sharp mist penetrates every member, and one breathes nothing but politics. . . .
When shall we meet, my noble friend? Perhaps never more! And as I think this, all the dear memories of every hour of our life together, the cordiality of our meetings flash through my mind, and my heart melts.
Thanks for your noble friendship! When this greeting reaches your hands, may you feel in it the pulsations of my heart. God grant that a better state of things may soon come about.
H. C. Andersen, Trollhatte in Sweden 18th August 1849
From the extreme north, on the boundary of Lapland, I have just reached here. I left Denmark in the spring, where I was useless in the struggle for victory, and have travelled through Sweden, have been up at Dalkarlien where no thunder of cannon resounds. Happy, politically-defined Sweden, with its secure boundaries! Three years ago I dreamt of undertaking the journey to Stockholm with you, but what a change has now come over everything! I travelled alone, but you were in my thoughts – yes, I may say daily in my thoughts – with melancholy and sadness. Oh, you scarcely know how highly I rate you, how firmly you have grown into my heart! I have only rightly understood that this summer. I have received no answer to my last letter which I wrote to you in the spring. I afterwards heard that a contingent of Weimar troops had marched to the north, and finally I read that your Royal Highness had yourself gone to the seat of war. I undertood the circumstances, and sorrowed deeply on account of them, but could write no more. But now the proclamations of peace are ringing in my years, I may follow the wishes of my heart and send this letter to my friend. In the far north of Sweden I received the news so late, and am only now listening to the sound of the joy-bells. I can see you again, and look into your honest, affectionate eyes. . . .
SOURCE: Hans Christian Andersen’s Correspondence, ed. Frederick Crawford (London: Dean & Son, 1891).
In his later years, Andersen was infatuated with the young ballet dancer, Harald Scharff.
Andersen died on 4 August 1875. It was not until 1893 that his sexuality was publicly discussed, when a newspaper hinted that he may have been a homosexual.
In 1901, an article in Magnus Hirschfeld’s Jahrbuch fuer sexuelle Zwischenstufen also discussed him as a homosexual.
Actually, says his biographer, Andersen may never have had sexual relations with anyone. The pages of his diaries are festooned with crosses which he used to indicate masturbation.