Great writer; terrible guest or is is great writer; terrible host?
Post date: Mar 12, 2016 12:14:8 AM
Hans Christian Andersen is undoubtedly a great writer. His stories have stood the test of time. He and Charles Dickens, another great writer whose stories have stood the test of time, were contemporaries. They met each other more than once - possibly at writers conventions? Struck up a cordial enough friendship that they wrote to each other quite frequently. One day when Hans was visiting England he went to the Dickens' house to stay for a weekend - and left after a month or more. There is more than one account of Hans being a bit socially inept - so maybe he didn't pick up the cues that he was outstaying his welcome - because it seems he did. After he left England he wrote to his friend Charles several times but never, ever got a reply.Charles wrote to several friends over the time of the visit to say how terrible it was having Hans staying. After he left apparently Charles wrote a message on the mirror in the guest bedroom
“Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks – which seemed to the family AGES!”
And seems Charles let a number of people know that the character Uriah Heep, from his book David Copperfield, was based on poor Hans. If this is true (and Wikipedia says so) then Charles is particularly mean in his description of Uriah Heep asleep (and you are likely to see a house guest asleep sometime over the five weeks!) There I saw him, lying on his back, with his legs extending to I don’t know where, gurglings taking place in his throat, stoppages in his nose, and his mouth open like a post office … Given that we know hans was exceptionally tall, had red hair (and the descriptions of Uriah's face and hair are pretty cutting) and probably snored I suspect Hans could have worked out who the character was based upon.
So from this we can surmise that Hans Christian Andersen is a terrible house guest who doesn't know when to leave.
I can also take it that Charles Dickens is the type of person who is friendly enough to you when you first meet but once he decides he doesn't like you then he really broadcasts that and can put the boot in (literally if that includes writing about you)
But which one is worse?
We have this really lovely photo from Copenhagen a few years ago where Hans looks so benign. Wouldn't you invite him to your house for a weekend?