Survey of Current Hans Christian Andersen Research in the United Kingdom
Any survey of Hans Christian Andersen research in the United Kingdom must begin by paying homage to the people whose efforts have not only furthered rersearch into the writer's life and works but also helped increase the general knowledge about him in the English-speaking world: Elias Bredsdorff and Reginald Spink.
Their work will be known to Andersen scholars generally and both are still active contributors. Any new research carried out in the United Kingdom will at some level or another refer back to theirs.
Following Professor Bredsdorff's retirement from Cambridge University, Hans Christian Andersen lecturing and research at University level lay dormant for a time but was then resumed in 1986 at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne by the author of this survey. An undergraduate specialist course on Andersen's 'forfatterskab' was supplemented with lectures and research seminars at Cambridge and Newcastle Universities, and public lectures and courses to audiences in the North of England. A recently completed paper on Hans Christian Andersen's work for the theatre has been accepted for publication by the Hans Christian Andersen Research Centre in Odense.
At the University of East Anglia, Norwich, Professor W. Glyn Jones is offering annual seminar courses to undergraduates, where H. C. Andersen is offered as a major Danish writer on a par with August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen. Professor Jones, who has himself published translations of Andersen's works and critical works about him over the years, gave a paper to the 1991 Biennial Conference of Teachers of Scandinavian Studies in the British Isles, on the translation of Andersen's work into English. On behalf of his university, he is also offering a lecture on Andersen to school audiences in 1991. In academic terms, Hans Christian Andersen has now found his 'home' at The University of East Anglia.
In both Norwich and Newcastle new research projects are being developed, into the reception of Andersen in the United Kingdom and the marketing of his work in that country.
A retrospective postgraduate student has recently proposed to carry out a research about Andersen for the M.Phil. degree. The student in question hopes to deal with how translators have treated Andersen's tales and how translations reveal themselves as interpretations of the tales. At the time of writing, this project has not yet been finalised and the student has not yet decided at which British university to carry out the work.
Occasionally, journalists and members of the public carry out their own research and organise their own lectures on aspects of Andersen's work. Although this work rarely reaches a wider audience and although it does not necessarily qualify as academic research proper, it is evidence of the obvious interest there is for Andersen in the United Kingdom. It also indicates that there is a need to broaden people's understanding of the writer as not only an author of great children's literature but as a creative writer of world stature and one of the great cultural personalities of nineteenth century Europe.