As a little boy, his mother encouraged him to write his own fairy tales and puppet theatre. He nearly starved as a teenager while trying to earn a living as a singer, dancer and actor. He later achieved fame and success as a writer.
Andersen often wrote about the outcast or the unfortunate. Usually, characters in his stories have to struggle or suffer through life. Sometimes the stories have happy endings, but not always.
His famous tales mix folk legends, moral teachings, and humor. His stories are meant for both children and adults alike.