“Hans Christian Andersen’s mother earned a living as a washerwoman and washed clothes at Odense Å (creek). The laundering spot today is situated at the end of Paaskestræde, but in the days of Hans Christian Andersen there was also a laundering spot at Munkemøllestræde 20, today a public swimming pool.
Hans Christian Andersen depicts his mother in a sad portrait, working, comforting herself with schnapps in the fairy tale “She Was Good For Nothing” in 1852:
“He went down the street and through an alley to the river, where his mother stood at her washing stool in the water, beating the heavy linen with a wooden beater. The current was strong, for the mill’s sluices were open; the bed sheet was dragged along by the stream and nearly swept away her washing stool, and the woman had all she could do to stand up against it.”
The tale ends with the text:
“No, it is not true!” said the old woman, looking up to heaven. “I have known it for many years and especially since the night before she died. I tell you she was a good and fine woman, and our Lord in heaven will say so, too, so let the world say: ‘She was good for nothing!'”