I first worked on I’m Hans Christian Andersen with Rachel Rose Reid in 2014. Rachel came to Burning Eye HQ over a couple of days and we worked together on a layout for the book. At the end of the process Rachel commandeered our kitchen and made soup to take to a friend who has just had a baby. The book remained a work in progress after that for a few years. Different projects, life and other priorities came along but we kept in touch and talked about the book when our paths crossed which alway seemed to be at the refugee welcoming Celebrating Sanctuary festival in Bristol. Eventually the book was rescheduled for release in early 2020 just in time for Covid to derail our plans again. Wind on eighteen months, a fresh edit and some new illustrations later and the book was fully formed.

Throughout the long process there was never any question that Burning Eye would publish the book. It was just a question of when. Rachel is a unique voice in the spoken word scene. A storyteller extraordinaire. Seeing her perform live is a mesmerising experience.

Clive Birnie, 2021

‘On the radio they said that Hans Christian Andersen wrote the Little Mermaid whilst he was avoiding the wedding of the person he loved. I thought ‘that doesn’t sound like a story that involves singing lobsters’. So I picked a book from my shelf, I sat down at the table, and I began to read. And as I read the stories, I remembered where I first heard them. You know how that is? You open one memory and a thousand more pour out.’

I’m Hans Christian Andersen strips the sugarcoat from the famous teller of fairytales, whilst grappling with our own love affairs of happily ever after.

‘Reid’s approach is so personal, idiosyncratic and unpredictable… It’s like Peter Schaffer reimagining Mozart – an artistic life retold, as the vehicle for another artist’s ideas and preoccupations. It’s marvellous.’

Corinne Salisbury, British Theatre Guide

Rachel Rose Reid, ‘Queen of the New Wave of Storytellers’ (Ian McMillan, BBC Radio) blends the traditional storytelling with contemporary spoken word. Since writing I’m Hans Christian Andersen, she has toured her work internationally, from the Nuyorican Poets Café to the Soho Theatre, and has collaborated and created commissions for a characteristically eclectic range of partners including Billy Bragg, London City Sinfonia, Dickens’ Bicentenary (as Writer in Residence), BBC Radio 3, and Old Vic, New Voices.


Listen to the latest episode of the Burning Eye Podcast with Rachel

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