When you don’t like another author you’re obligated to be friendly with

In this comedy of errors bromance for the ages, Hans Christian Andersen was the one who loved too much, and Charles Dickens the one tired of being loved. This strikes me as a great movie for someone. Maybe that centre-focus, pastel colours guy who did the Grand Budapest Hotel. Get on it, Hollywood.

Hans Christian Andersen, pictured here in John A. MacDonald cosplay

They had a friendly conversation—afterwards, Andersen wrote a letter to his friends in Denmark, ecstatic that Dickens had lived up to his hopes. Andersen apparently made a good impression on Dickens, too, because a few weeks later, Dickens sent him a package containing some of his books, and a personal note.

Perhaps a little too encouraged by this gesture, Andersen sent Dickens regular letters for the next nine years. Annoyed by the correspondence, in 1856 Dickens insincerely and curtly mentioned (in a letter laden with the kind of weird flattery that often conceals petty meanness) that Anderson would be welcome to stay with his family, if he were ever in the neighborhood. Which, he absolutely, definitely did not mean.

But in March of 1857, Andersen earnestly wrote to Dickens to say that he was traveling to England, for no more than a fortnight, to take Dickens up on his offer. And so, in June of that year, Andersen showed up to Gad’s Hill, Dickens’s country estate in Higham, ready to become roommates with his hero. “My visit is for you alone,” he wrote. “Above all, always leave me a small corner in your heart.”

(If it weren’t for the fact that Andersen seems kind of cluelessly sweet, this would sound like horror movie. I’ve definitely seen this horror movie.)

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