The old romantic. Photo: Thora Hallager/Public Domain
A new emotional letter written by a heartbroken Hans Christian Andersen indicates that the master of fairytales never got over his first love.
Fyns Stifsidende reported on Tuesday that a letter written by Denmark’s most famous son to the brother of Riborg Voigt revealed that he remained in love with her long after she married another man.
Ejnar Stig Askgaard from Odense City Museums estimates that the letter was written around Christmas 1832, when Andersen was 27. Askgaard said that the shaky penmanship indicates that Andersen was emotional when he wrote it.
In the letter, Andersen writes to Christian Voigt, Riborg’s brother and Andersen’s longtime friend, and confirms that several poems that Andersen wrote after Voigt’s marriage to another man were indeed inspired by his undying love for her.
Askgaard said that the letter was uncharacteristically emotional.
“HC Andersen normally held his feeling very close. He also wrote in the letter that it should be burnt after reading. If only he could have known that he was not alone in his infatuation. When Riborg Voigt died, the poems he had written for her were found along with a bouquet and a photograph of Andersen in a hidden compartment in her drawer,” Askgaard told Fyens Stiftstidende.
Andersen never seemed to get over his love for Riborg Voigt either. He carried a letter from her in a pouch that he wore around his neck until he died at the age of 70 on August 4th, 1875.
The new letter was discovered when Riborg Voigt’s great-grandson died without an heir. A friend found that letter when going through his belongings and delivered it to the museum, despite the fact that previously-discovered letters from Andersen have brought in as much as 60,000 kroner on the auction block.
The Hans Christian Andersen Center already owns six other letters from Andersen to Riborg Voigt, as well as two that she sent to him.