Hans Christian Andersen and his borrowed grave at Assistens Kirkegård in Copenaghen3 min read
Assistens Cemetery, Assistens Kirkegård in Danish, in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the burial site of many local notables. An “assistenskirkegård” (which means “assistance cemetery”) is originally a generic term in Danish, used to refer to cemeteries which were laid out to assist existing burial sites, and therefore a number of cemeteries by the same name are found around Denmark.
Inaugurated in 1760, it was originally a burial site for the poor laid out to relieve the crowded graveyards inside the walled city, but during the Golden Age in the first half of the 19th century it became fashionable and many leading figures of the epoch, such as philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, painters Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg and Christen Købke are all buried here. This is also where the famous writer of fairy tales Hans Christian Andersen rests.
Historically, Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense (Denmark) on April 2, 1805.
At the age of fourteen, he moved to Copenhagen seeking employment as an actor. He had a pleasant soprano voice and succeeded in being admitted to the Royal Danish Theatre. However, his career stopped when his voice changed but luckily stories lasts longer than a voice.
And in fact, in his lifetime, Andersen wrote no fewer than 3381 works.
Despite he was a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Nightingale”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Match Girl” and “Thumbelina”, are just some titles that have been translated into more than 125 languages and continue to be published in millions of copies all over the world inspiring ballets, plays, animated and live-action films still today.
Hans Christian Andersen died on August 4, 1875, in a house called Rolighed (literally “calmness”), that was the home of the banker Moritz Melchior and his wife. A week later, his body was interred in the cemetery Assistens Kirkegård in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the family plot of his close friends, Edvard Collin and his wife Henriette.
In 1914 the Edvard Collin’s gravestone was moved to another cemetery (today known as “Frederiksbergs ældre kirkegaard”), where younger Collin family members were buried. And for a period, Hans Christian Andersen’s, Edvard Collin’s and Henriette Collin’s graves was unmarked.
Later, a second tombstone was placed on the grave, marking just Andersen’s grave, with this epigraph:
“The soul which God in his image created,
Is incorruptible, can not be lost.
Our life on earth is the seed of eternity,
Our body dies, but the soul can not die!“
…but without any mention of the Collin couple, despite all three still share the same plot!
Images from web – Google Research