FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN'S WONDERFUL STORIES, 1846, WITH FOUR LOVELY HAND-COLORED PLATES
ANDERSEN, Hans Christian. Wonderful Stories for Children. Translated from the Danish by Mary Howitt. London: Chapman and Hall, 1846. Small octavo, original blind-stamped blue cloth gilt, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $17,000.
First edition of the extraordinarily rare first translation into English of Hans Christian Andersen's stories, with four hand-colored plates, in original cloth.
"Wonderful Stories for Children was the first translation into English of the 'modern' fairy tales of Andersen, although his stories had been appearing in his native Denmark since 1835… During an early visit to Britain he met Charles Dickens and befriended Mary Howitt, the author of a number of natural history books for children… Due to her meeting with Andersen she conceived the idea of translating his stories, then almost totally unknown in Britain, actually learning Danish to enable her to do this" (Quayle, 74-6). Because of the popularity of Andersen's tales in England, three separate translations were published in 1846: "Mrs. Howitt's was the best of these, and was greeted with a chorus of praise from all the leading literary journals" (Muir, 106). "The earliest collections in Danish [of Andersen's tales] are of the utmost rarity; and the English translations in 1846 and 1847 are almost as rare" (Muir, 52). "Andersen's work was immediately naturalized into English children's literature, and was the second great element, after Grimm, in the revival of public enthusiasm for fairy tale and fantasy" (Carpenter & Prichard, 22). This important work contains ten of Andersen's tales, including "The Naughty Boy," "Tommelise," "The Rose-Elf," and "The Constant Tin Soldier." First issue, with the author's name misspelt on the title page. Contemporary owner gift inscription.
Only slightest foxing to preliminaries and a few finger smudges to interior, expert restoration to cloth extremities. An extremely good copy.