He was born in Modum as a son of Carl Hansen (1757–1826) and Abigael Wulfsberg (1758–1823). In October 1816 he married teacher Helvig Leschly (1789–1874). He was a father-in-law of Eilert Sundt, and thus grandfather of Einar Sundt.
He is recognized for his contribution to a diversity of genres and the introduction of the novel in Norway. He was a major contributor to the Norwegian Romantic Movement. He also wrote what was arguably the world's first crime novel with "Mordet på Maskinbygger Rolfsen" ("The Murder of Engine Maker Rolfsen") in 1839, two years before Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" in 1841.
He worked as a teacher in Trondheim from 1820 and in Kongsberg from 1826. He was a fellow of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Trondhjem, but was not appointed when he applied for a position as lecturer of philosophy at the Royal Frederick University around 1839.
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