Monica Stirling, who told the story of Ouida in The Fine and the Wicked, has seemingly spent even greater care on the life of Hans Christian Andersen which is almost inseparable in theme and character from the fairy tales. When he died, a friend observed ""What a happy death,"" which could hardly be said of many of the experiences which preceded it; the cobbler's son who escaped from a very simple home in Odense never moved too far away from the shadow of his grandfather's madness (he was periodically depressed throughout his life) or the reality of poverty (his mother inspired The Little-Match Girl) until his later years. The child, whose head was full of books, songs, his toy theatre, and the life of the imagination, left home at fourteen for the anything but ""wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen"" of the candycoated film-- his early years there were lonely and deprived. His first love for the sister of a school friend was unreciprocated; so, at 38, was his great love for Jenny Lind, and often he transferred the failure in his emotional relationships to a chafed disappointment in his success as a writer. He traveled extensively; formed friendships with many of the notables of the time; but his later years, even with money and fame established, were tinged with neurasthenic fears and humiliations... Monica Stirling's traditional biography has been handled with a solid inlay of detail and a sympathetic identification.