From Brussels-based not-for-profit research association Icons of Europe:
Hans Christian Andersen fell in love with Jenny Lind (1820-1887), the Swedish soprano. He wrote The Nightingale as a tribute to her in 1843. It led to her appellation, The Swedish Nightingale. However, she did not return his feelings. They remained good friends, and she was a particularly important source of inspiration for his work.*
As documented by the research findings of Icons of Europe in 2003, it is a deep irony that Jenny Lind in 1848-1849 lived through her own nightingale story with Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849). He suffered from TB, and when she sang for him he felt better. With the knowledge of Queen Victoria, Jenny Lind made in May 1849 an unsuccessful attempt to marry Chopin, who died five months later."
* Hans Christian Andersen says in The True Story of My Life (published in 1847, the same year he met her again in London):
"Through Jenny Lind I first became sensible of the holiness of Art. Through her I learned that one must forget one's self in the service of the Supreme. No books, no men, have had a more ennobling influence upon me as a poet than Jenny Lind."
From The Life of Hans Christian Andersen. Day By Day (Johan de Mylius, Aschehoug 1998):
9th-20th August 1843
Jenny Lind, the famed Swedish singer, is in Copenhagen. HCA spends time with her almost every day, both privately and at her performances. He is very infatuated in [sic] her.
25 September 1845
Jenny Lind, the famed Swedish opera singer, arrives in Copenhagen. HCA spends a great deal of time with her until her departure on 22nd October. During the time she is in Copenhagen, HCA's almanac contains almost daily mentions of her. He allows himself to hope, in spite of knowing better. The resulting frustrations cause him to feel "sick at heart" (the almanac, 20th October). "She toasted me as she would her brother" (the almanac 21st).
17 December 1845
In her diary, Wilhelmine Bardua describes HCA as "highly talkative and accompanies his talk with lively gesticulating" and claims that he "is quite good looking". HCA's principle reason for coming to Berlin is to be with Jenny Lind, but already before they meet he mentions in his diary on 19th: "I feel that I do not love her as one may". By this he meant that he was more able to dream about her than to actually approach her. During the stay, he vacillates between being extremely angry with her, telling himself that he does not love her any more, and fluttering around her.
Attends a dinner at Jenny Lind's on New Year Eve. There is a Christmas tree in honour of HCA, who she has repeatedly put in his place, during his stay in Berlin, by calling him "a child" and "a good person" (the diary, 26th and 31st). They are both frightened when a C note is heard from the piano, which has not been touched. (HCA has a fear of seeing deceased persons and had therefore wished that they should mark their presence with tones). On the 29th December and 2nd January, he sits for an unknown painter.
22 January 1846
Jenny Lind arrives in Weimar and performs both at concerts and at the residence of the hereditary grand duke (where HCA is dressed up to the nines, with a triangular hat and dress sword). The frustrations over the relationship with Jenny Lind make him quite ill.
7 February 1846
Departure from Weimer, after a great deal of mutual embracing with the hereditary grand duke, who wants him to be a friend for life. Travels via Jena to Leipzig, where he remains until the 20th. In Leipzig he frequently associates with Mendelssohn and hears him at both private and public musical arrangements (hears e.g. a performance of Wagner's Tannhäuser overture, which he likes very much but which the audience boos; "at an entire painting lay therein", the diary, 12th).
Sees Niels W. Gade, who had lived in Leipzig since September 1844 and become Mendelssohn's assistant and was selected to be his successor as director of the Gewandhous Orchestra. Makes an agreement with Gade regarding the opera " Nøkken " ( The water Elf). HCA had plans to have this opera staged first in a German theatre and with Jenny Lind in a lead role.
23 June 1847
HCA arrives in London. Here he meets with the hereditary Grand Duke of Weimar as well as Jenny Lind. Also associates with the ballet-dancer Lucile Grahn and the German composer Ludwig Spohr. Sees his portrait (Carl Hartmann's water colour) in the window of a bookseller here in London too.
He is told that in England, those belonging to the nobility and royalty do not associate with artists. He is, however, invited by the high nobility as a much-admired guest. This is not least due to the Danish ambassador in London, Count Frederik (Fritz) Reventlow, who does a lot for HCA and introduces him in the upper circles of society. Reventlow also invites HCA to his own home on several occasions. On one of these evenings at Reventlow's, Carl Hartmann is present and draws HCA reading aloud for the guests. The picture shows (apart from the ambassador) Christian Reventlow, Countess Jutta Reventlow, the daughters Malvina and Hilda, as well as the childrens' governess.
16 July 1847
Meets Dickens, (the diary: "as we spoke on the verandah, tears came to my eyes"). Stays for about a week with his banker, Joseph Hambro, at his country home (17th - 23rd July), where HCA is able to work on his novel. Disputes with Mary Howitt occur at this time. Poses for the sculptor Joseph Durham (28th July - 2nd August, "my bust is like my soul", diary 2nd August). Durham has also made a bust of Jenny Lind, which of course is what HCA finds so fascinating about this project: "We two pendant" (i.e. what a pair we are) (diary, 28th July).
24 May 1854
By train through Prague to Vienna. Here he meets Jenny Lind with her husband and child and hears her sing at a concert.
28 October 1866
Back in Copenhagen, where Melchior meets him and helps him move in to his new rooms on Kongens Nytorv: 1 Lille Kongensgade, 1st floor, the home of Thora Hallager, a female photographer. HCA describes the interior here in an unprinted letter addressed to Mrs Scavenius at Basnæs:
"Thank you for the lovely vases and for the picture, they are most decorative in my lounge, which is very cosy and neat with rugs, pictures, ornaments and flowers from Mrs Jerichau. I also received a very nice Brysseler rug. The view is marvellous and each window is fitted with just one large pane of glass. The stairwell is fine and moreover, I have a well-lit antechamber [...] Countess Holstein was in town for a couple of days and brought with her a large wreath which can keep all winter, also some swaying Panama-grass. It drapes down almost like a banner over the bust of Jenny Lind, which I have placed in a corner between flowers. Unfortunately, I only get the morning sun and the tiled stove is not very big; winter will probably be hard and long."
27 November 1871
For the first time in 16 years, he receives a letter from Jenny Lind. The letter was sent from Firenze, where she and her husband and daughter are staying.
The dated entries above are part of the book H.C. Andersens liv. Dag for dag ("The Life of Hans Christian Andersen. Day By Day", 310 pages with registers of persons and of subjects, Copenhagen 1998), a revised and extended edition of H.C. Andersen — liv og værk. En tidstavle 1805-1875 ("Hans Christian Andersen — Life and Works. A Timetable 1805-1875", Copenhagen 1993). The books have not been published in print in English and are only available in English at this link: