Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen spent all day partying 150 years ago, when his former hometown of Odense made him an honorary citizen – a venerated tribute last granted to a king. To echo the day’s grand finale, when Andersen’s path to city hall was lit by a train of torches, Odense is staging a “Field of Light” exhibit. Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik is opening the show on the historic anniversary date, December 6.

Andersen was born in Odense and is known to have lived in two different houses there. But when he was 14, three years after his shoemaker father died, he headed for Copenhagen, never to return as a resident. His fairy tales made him world-famous, and Odense wanted to reclaim and honor their special native son, so officials arranged to make him an “æresborger” or honorary citizen. Andersen held the title for the last eight years of his life. Today, Odense – Denmark’s third largest city – is the global focus of Andersen tourism, including museums, artworks, restaurants and other ways to highlight the author and his storybook characters.

The “Field of Light” exhibit, by English artist Bruce Munro, will shine in Odense from Dec 6 until the week of Feb 19, 2018. Another development in the city likely to please Andersen fans is a large New Hans Christian Andersen Museum, under construction and scheduled to open in 2020.

Odense city coat-of-arms


Photo of Field of Light by artist Bruce Munro
Odense press release about Field of Light exhibit (in Danish)
Youtube video of the New Hans Christian Andersen Museum, planned to open in 2020
Youtube video of The Funen Village, reflecting life in the times of Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen – biography.com
–Book: Hans Christian Andersen – A Biography, by Robert Nisbet Bain, IBAN 1410200469, 9781410200464, reprinted in 2002 University Press of the Pacific
–Book: Hans Christian Andersen – The Life of a Storyteller, by Jackie Wullschlager, IBAN 0226917479 (ISBN13: 9780226917474), printed 2002 by University of Chicago Press
Description and images of Andersen receiving honorary citizenship on 6 Dec 1867 (in Danish)
Photo of Odense coat of arms on the town hall, by Jebulon via Wikimedia Commons