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Jean Hersholt Collections

Early editions of Hans Christian Andersen's writings and his papers; first editions of the writings of Hugh Walpole and Sinclair Lewis and related papers

Hans Christian Andersen. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

In the early 1950's Mr. and Mrs. Jean Hersholt presented to the Library their collection of Anderseniana, probably the most comprehensive collection in America of first editions, manuscripts, letters, presentation copies, and pictorial material relating to Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). The Hersholt Collection, formed by the collectors over a thirty-year period, chronicles Andersen's publications beginning with his first book, Ungdoms-forsøg (Youthful Attempts), which was issued in Copenhagen in 1822 under the pseudonym William Christian Walter. Among the first editions in the collection are the six pamphlets published by C. A. Reitsel of Copenhagen between 1835 and 1842 with the title, Eventyr, fortalte for børn (Fairy Tales Told for Children). These contain the earliest printings of nineteen of the fairy tales, among them "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "Thumbelina." The collection also includes manuscripts of several fairy tales, Andersen's correspondence (1868-74) with his American publisher Horace E. Scudder, volumes inscribed by Andersen, early translations, significant posthumous editions, and works about Andersen.

To a lesser degree, Jean Hersholt collected letters, literary manuscripts and first editions of the writings of two of his friends, Sir Hugh Walpole (1884-1941) and Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951). Walpole is represented by sixty inscribed publications and holograph manuscripts of The Duchess of Wrexe, The Captives, and Wintersmoon. Twenty eight of the thrifty first editions of Sinclair Lewis's works in the collection are inscribed to Hersholt. Of particular interest is Lewis's personal copy of his 1930 Nobel Prize acceptance speech with his numerous revisions.

Hersholt, who was knighted by King Christian X of Denmark in 1946 for his war relief work, also assembled a small collection of Danish underground publications from World War II. The four collections contain a total of 963 items.

Digitized Items from the Collection

Billedbo til Jonas Drewsen

[Billedbog til Jonas Drewsen/compiled by Hans christian Andersen and A.L. Drewsen.] [Kjøbenhavn, ca. 1862]
Page Turner - PDF (77.49MB) Bibliographic Information

A unique work prepared by Hans Christian Andersen with his friend Councilor of State A. L. Drewsen for the latter’s grandson, Jonas Drewsen.  The 140-page book features hundreds of pasted pictures cut from English, German, and American newspapers, illustrated magazines, and books. Through these hand-colored pictures and occasional original verses and rhymes, Andersen told Jonas, then about eight years old, many fairy tales and stories.

See: Catalog of the Jean Hersholt Collection of Hans Christian Andersen, the Library of Congress, 1954 for details.

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  October 8, 2015
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