More cute than ugly, but that’s the description Danish poet and author Hans Christian Anderson dreamed up for his cygnets. This family of swans however, reside on a pond in Llanfairfechen, a coastal town in North Wales.
Anderson initially considered calling his fairy tale “The Young Swans”, but not wanting to spoil the element of surprise in the protagonist’s transformation, discarded it for “The Ugly Duckling”.
He later confessed that the story was a reflection of his own life; when questioned whether he would write his autobiography, the poet suggested it had already been written in “The Ugly Duckling”. Andersen was apparently a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet, and although he grew up with a passion for the theater and a beautiful singing voice, he was still teased and mocked by other children.
There has been speculation that Andersen was the illegitimate son of Prince Christian Frederik (later King Christian VIII of Denmark) and finding this out some time before he wrote the book, the swan in the story became a metaphor not just for inner beauty and talent but also for secret royal lineage.
Another fairy story perhaps!