H.C.Andersen Information




Andersen : What was he like ?  by Elias Bredsdorff      Nr.5

Behaving like a good boy

I believe that Andersen was scared of sex and also of its possible consequences. While staying at Le Locle in Switzerland in August 1833 he wrote in his diary:

I visited an Asyle pour les enfants malheureuses, founded by Marianne Calame. There were some very fine faces among the children; perhaps their father is now wallowing



" A wild desire for a woman to kiss and embrace, exactly as when I was in the south "

H.C. Andersen before 1833.




in wealth, or perhaps some young traveller just enjoyed an hour of dalliance among the mountains, and now the unfortunate children who were born as a result must suffer. They sang movingly a song for us, which brought tears to my eyes; in my heart I promised God never to seduce anybody and bring such an unhappy creature into the world.

In Italy some of Andersen's compatriots planned to deprive him of his virginity be taking him along to a brothel, but they failed.
The diaries make it clear that in refraining from entering into any illicit sexual relationships he was, so to speak, "behaving as a good boy" to the Collin family, and so he was extremely upset when later on members of that family teased him for " not behaving like all other young men" when he was abroad. He wrote in his diary in Copenhagen on December 11, 1837: "When I was abroad it was only in order not to hurt their feelings, and it is out of regard for them here at home that I have never followed my passions, and yet this is not appreciated; I left them in a rage, felt a change in my behaviour; I want to be like other men, I thought." But alas! his fears still prevented him from being "like other men". The fact that his sexual desire was directed towards women rather than towards men is also borne out by an entry such as the following, written at the manor of Bregentved in July 1842: "Sensually disposed, a passion in my blood of an almost animal-like kind, a wild desire for a woman to kiss and embrace, exactly as when I was in the south."

There were undoubtedly some feminine elements in Andersen, and there were times when his feelings for Edvard Collin and the young Hereditary Duke of Weimar and HaraId Scharff, a young Danish ballet dancer, appeared to be feelings of love more than of friendship, though Andersen's use of the word "love" should not necessarily always be taken at face value. He was probably aware of this tendency in himself, and he was hurt and annoyed when a German author asked him if he had never loved, and said that" one didn't find that in my books, there love came flying down like a fairy, and I myself was a kind of half-man".

In so far as the evidence of the diaries can be relied on, the nearest Andersen came to "sinning" was in Paris in 1866, 1867 and 1868, when on a few occasions he went to a brothel, with his young Danish travelling companions, to look at some naked girls. His comments oh one occasion were: "I left the place completely innocent but had talked for quite awhile with the poor child for whom I felt sorry and who was surprised that I wanted no more than to talk to her."

In 1868, when he was in Paris with Einar Drewsen, Edvard Collin's nephew, they both went to a brothel, "where I was only talking to Fernanda, the little Turkish girl, while E. amused himself. She was the loveliest of them; we spoke about Constantinople, her native city, about the illuminations there on Mohammed's birthday; she was very insistent pour faire l'amour, but I told her I had only come to talk, nothing more. 'Come again soon,' she said, 'but not tomorrow, for that's my day off.' Poor woman! "

There is something profoundly innocent about the elderly Andersen carrying on polite conversations with naked prostitutes in French brothels. He was too scared to go beyond that. And he was furious when his physician, Dr Theodor Collin, who disapproved of sexual abstinence, suggested that it might be a good idea if he "paid secret visits to women". -"How wrongly they judge me!" he commented in his diary.




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