The story of the beloved story teller, concentrating on the miraculous, though painful, transformation of an ugly duckling of a peasant boy to a world famous figure and a friend of kings as well as the children all over the world, who read his fairy tales. By an English author, the biography is written in a vivid, pictorial style, well-suited to the rags-to-riches tale of an awkward, over-strung lad from the village of Odense, Denmark, where he was born in 1805. After the death of his poor father, and against the better judgement of his washer woman mother, Hans set out at fifteen for Copenhagen to fulfill the prophecy of a gypsy that ""he will become a great man"". Determined to be an actor, this gentle, ugly boy endured starvation and mistreatment, along with the friendship of theatre men and posts who helped him to reach his goal. Discouraged, he finally turned to writing, was sent to school at the age of seventeen and at last reached the achievement and fame which the gypsy prophesied. Although there should be a word of warning about a description of an executive that is not for sensitive children, this is an absorbing, vigorous biography.