This article is about the story by Hans Christian Andersen. Not to be confused with The Songs for children in the Tatar language to listen to Wears No Clothes.
Published in Fairy Tales Told for Children. The Emperor’s New Clothes” was first published with “The Little Mermaid” in Copenhagen, by C. Reitzel, on 7 April 1837, as the third and final installment of Andersen’s Fairy Tales Told for Children. A vain emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires weavers who promise him they will make him the best suit of clothes. The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. Andersen altered the source tale to direct the focus on courtly pride and intellectual vanity rather than adulterous paternity. The dishonest merchant Dhana from Hastināpura swindles the King of Śrāvastī by offering to weave a supernatural garment that cannot be seen or touched by any person of illegitimate birth.
Andersen’s manuscript was at the printer’s when he was suddenly inspired to change the original climax of the tale from the emperor’s subjects admiring his invisible clothes to that of the child’s cry. There are many theories about why he made this change. Andersen’s decision to change the ending may have occurred after he read the manuscript tale to a child, or its inspiration may have been a childhood incident similar to that in the tale. He later recalled standing in a crowd with his mother, waiting to see King Frederick VI. The Emperor’s New Clothes” was first published with “The Little Mermaid” on 7 April 1837, by C. Reitzel in Copenhagen, as the third and final installment of the first collection of Andersen’s Fairy Tales Told for Children. Traditional Danish tales, as well as German and French folktales, were regarded as a form of exotica in nineteenth century Denmark and were read aloud to select gatherings by celebrated actors of the day.
Andersen’s tales eventually became a part of the repertoire, and readings of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” became a specialty of and a big hit for the popular Danish actor Ludvig Phister. On 1 July 1844, the Hereditary Grand Duke Carl Alexander held a literary soiree at Ettersburg in honor of Andersen. Zipes believe this is the reason the story is popular with children. Sight becomes insight, which, in turn, prompts action. Alison Prince, author of Hans Christian Andersen: The Fan Dancer, claims that Andersen received a gift of a ruby and diamond ring from the king after publications of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Swineherd”—tales in which Andersen voices a satirical disrespect for the court. Maria Tatar offers a scholarly investigation and analysis of the story, drawing on Robbins’ political and sociological analysis of the tale.