Thumbelina's story

Hello! Probably everyone remembers Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale about Thumbelina. Many children loved the story of this tiny girl who became the queen of the elves. Today we will tell you interesting facts about the famous storyteller and Thumbelina.
Many believe that the heroine of the book is a small child, a girl no older than 12 years old. This impression is given to readers because of the translations, in which she is called a "baby" and a "little girl". In fact, literary critics believe that Thumbelina was only physically small, and so she was a young woman. By the way, she had a real prototype, Andersen's ladyfriend Henriette Wullf. She was 31 years old when he wrote this tale.
She was the eldest daughter of Andersen's patron, Peter Wulff. Henriette was a pretty, kind and well-educated girl, but due to illness she rarely left the house and spent her time reading books. She had dwarfism, and she was also a hunchback. Andersen valued his friendship with his muse greatly and wrote "Thumbelina" to support her. He wanted her to be happy at least in a fairy tale, where she found happiness and a family.
Henriette was in very poor health, which forced her to temporarily move to Italy in 1934. The warm climate of the Mediterranean country had a beneficial effect on the woman's health, but it was very difficult for her to endure separation from her friend. The writer and his "light elf" began to actively correspond, and in letters Andersen often sent his magical stories to Henriette. One of them was the fairy tale "Thumbelina", which was later included in the collection "Tales Told for Children".
It was easy to recognize Henriette in the main character. She was also very small and felt like a stranger in a large, not always friendly world. But then she flew away with the birds to a distant southern country and married an elven prince.
Unfortunately, the fate of the real Henriette was tragic. She sailed the ship "Austria" to visit the grave of her older brother. There was a fire, and the ship sank. This news upset Andersen so much that he almost lost his mind. For more than a year, he learned to live without his friend. Until the end of his life, he was terribly afraid of the sea and fires, and even carried a rope with him everywhere, so that if necessary, he could use it to escape a burning building.