Many these days associate Andersen with "The Little Mermaid," though his version is deeply different from Disney's.
But I can live without a prince. I can't live without beauty, which is why "The Ugly Duckling" is my favorite Andersen story. It's beautifully written, too, redolent of seasons in the countryside.
For anyone who's ever looked in the mirror and been pleased that it reflects a being transformed through effort or luck or sheer desire into something lovely, the concluding lines will ring true:
He felt so very happy, but he wasn't at all proud, for a good heart never grows proud. He thought about how he had been persecuted and scorned, and now he heard them all call him the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The lilacs dipped their clusters into the stream before him, and the sun shone so warm and so heartening. He rustled his feathers and held his slender neck high, as he cried out with full heart: "I never dreamed there could be so much happiness, when I was the ugly duckling."Here, the hands of Hans. Writing: