Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

Anne Lisbeth

Anne LisbethAnne Lisbeth

There was once a beautiful woman who had pale skin and red hair. She had a child, who was ugly. The child was sent away to live with a poorer family for upbringing. Anne Lisbeth herself took care of a count’s child, who was beautiful. Anne Lisbeth loved the count’s child, while her own son grew up in a rough household.

He often went hungry. He was often mistreated. He often lacked when his mother had plenty.

Years went by and the boy became good at doing several things, but he decided to go to sea. He went on a ship with another man. A storm tossed the ship here and there, and finally, sank it. The man and the boy went down underneath the waves. All that seemed to be left of them floated away to shore.

Anne Lisbeth had become accustomed to being called madame. She took a long journey to see the count’s son one day, but he did not remember her at all. Anne Lisbeth was very hurt. As it so happened she ended up at the house where her son had lived. His adoptive parents knew of his death. They knew his boat had went down. Anne Lisbeth was so involved in her grief about the count’s son that she at first did not comprehend that her own son was dead.

Something drew her to the seashore. A specter came to her. It was her son. She realized she had her own son and had not taken care of him. The specter told her to dig him a grave. Anne Lisbeth spent the night on the beach trying to dig her poor dead son a grave. She was found and taken away.

A year passed, and Anne Lisbeth hadn’t seemed herself at all anymore. She would often be found wandering, but some time later, she was found kneeling in the church. Her son’s specter had come to her and told her that she had buried him in her heart and that was enough. She died before the sun was up.


This would make a great scary movie. I can actually see someone taking this story and making it into something wonderful for the screen.

Women did send their children to other people to raise. The women had some other duty and could not raise the child themselves. Perhaps they had a job like Anne Lisbeth; she had been a governess or nanny of some sort. She had raised another person’s child and there was no room for her own child. Women who were called to court often sent their children to someone else to raise. It was a thing. For whatever reason, the woman could not raise her child herself, even if she was raising someone else’s child.

Women who were governesses and nannies developed feelings for the children they cared for, but when the children grew older, they often looked down upon the women who raised them because they were not of the same class. It’s a sad tale all around.


Anne Lisbeth chose to ignore her own child to the extent that she did. She could have gone to visit. She could have written letters. There are lots of things she could have done differently. She put to much of herself into the beautiful boy who grew to forget her.

There were probably circumstances which did actually prevent Anne Lisbeth from raising her own son, as I mentioned earlier, but this woman chose not to have an active part in her own child’s life. She chose what she did and she suffered for it. When she realized that she had neglected her own son, even if it was from the help of a ghost, she was torn. She had had her own boy who had needed her and would have benefited greatly from having her in his life, but she never thought to take any part in it.

I know we all want to hate on Anne Lisbeth for not raising her own child, but she may not have had a choice in that. We can dislike her for what she did have a choice in. A parent who chooses not to be a part of their child’s life is going to suffer at some point. They’re going to regret not being a part of that child’s life. They’re going to look back one day and say, “I had a son. I had a daughter. Now I have no one.” A child isn’t going to magically show up in your life and make everything better when you essentially abandoned them in their own life. They don’t owe anything to you. Don’t try to tell me that you birthed them and they owe you for that. Simply birthing someone does not make you a parent; it just means you had unprotected sex.


Oh, Anne Lisbeth, you poor sorry creature.

Weigh In

What do you think Anne Lisbeth could have done better in her life?

Do you think the count’s son really didn’t remember Anne Lisbeth?


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