He was born 1805, the only son of a washerwoman and a shoemaker. They were very poor, but his dad brought him to the local playhouse, developing his creative side by making him his own toys. He went to school occasionally, but spent most of the time reading and studying by himself. His fondest memories were that of his father's work bench, which held many books and songs. The boy grew up to be tall, lanky, and awkward, with a love for singing and dancing, and an vivid imagination. Though he began writing at an early age, it was only in 1827 when first poem was published, and launched his career as a writer. His fairy tales of fantasy became popular around the world for their moral lessons. Some of his well-known works include The Little Match Girl, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes, among many others.