The Sibling of The Ugly Duckling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hans Christian Andersen wrote some wonderful fairy tales that have made his name all over the world, but he wasn't as mild and benevolent as people thought, at least not to his sister ...

Submitted: January 15, 2011

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Submitted: January 15, 2011



There is a handful of famous Danes, topped by the writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), who seems to be loved all over the world. His international fame is based on his fairy tales which indeed are fabulous, both funny and wise or, as some people feel about them, wise but very sad. Well, he could be both, but he wasn't always the mild and benevolent man he has been set out to be. When it comes to his half-sister - or "his mother's daughter" as he calls this sibling, Karen Marie Danielsdatter Rosenvinge (1799-1846) - he isn't mild.  In his opinion she was a disgrace to him and he never was happy to see her or to hear of her.
Most of her childhood she, who was one of the three illegitimate children of a man who was never married to her mother, was fostered out and only lived with the family for a short period of time. The mother of both the children, Karen Marie and Hans Christian, also was born an illegitimate child and she was reputed to be a good person whom he loved so why could her son not accept his sister who started out in the same social position as their mother? It is safe to say that he never accepted this sister and that he seems to have suspected her of living an immoral and thus disgraceful life.
In the article "H.C. Andersens halvsøster, Karen Marie Rosenvinge, og hendes slægt" (: "The half-sister of Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Marie Rosenvinge, and her Family") by Bent Østergaard and Kenneth V. Jørgensen it is stated once and for all that there is nothing on her in police archives of that time. Or put another way: Karen Marie was not a prostitute and thus a disgrace to her family, she was a hard working washer woman like their mother. Most likely she was sent out to work as a servant girl at the tender age of 9-10 years and even though she was very upset when she could not have the address of her brother when he set out from his home as a child to try his luck in Copenhagen she did not stalk him when he got famous and thus wealthier than anyone in their family.
All she did was to propose to come to see him a few times when she did not know how to get work or money. That is, her fiance or maybe husband, Peter Kaufmann, was the one whom the famous writer accepted to see, not his sister. Only once did she come and Hans Christian Andersen noted that she looked quite young and rather well-dressed.
When Karen Marie was found dead in her rooms in 1846 she was buried in Assistens Kirkegården (: The Assistens Cemetary). This beautiful and interesting cemetary also was to become the last resting place of her brother when he died in 1875, but it is not known how their graves are positioned to each other. Many people still visit his grave, but as the location of hers has been forgotten nobody goes there. If I knew where it is I would have visited it as I find that she has been wronged.

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