A: Does life imitate art? Does art imitate life? Doesn’t matter. Either way, things could have ended a little more happily-ever-after for Hans Christian Anderson. Turns out, the 19th-century fairy tale master who authored such beloved children’s stories as “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Ugly Duckling” was definitely something of an ugly duckling himself.
Not only was the rather unattractive Anderson notoriously bad with the ladies, he didn’t even have the social graces to garner much male companionship. Anderson was known for overstaying his welcome, a party foul that put him on the outs with fellow writer Charles Dickens. Apparently, what started out as a pleasant one- or two-week stay with Dickens in 1847 became a five-week burden that ruptured their “once upon a time” friendship. Even worse for Anderson, he never quite blossomed off-the-page into the swan his character did.