British author J. K. Rowling is the first recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Prize, which was presented in Odense, Denmark, on Tuesday. ((Kim Rune/Fyens Stiftstidende/Polfoto/Associated Press) )

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has won the inaugural Hans Christian Andersen Literature Prize.

She paid tribute to Andersen, author of The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen and The Naked Emperor, in her acceptance speech in Odense, Denmark, Andersen's hometown.

"Andersen understood that writing for children does not mean 'pureeing' what one would have written for adults," she said. "It ought not to be bland or soppy or devoid of challenging ingredients."

The prize was created to honour children's authors who write in the spirit of Andersen, who lived from 1805 to 1875.

The new award, with a prize of about $95,000 Cdn, is different from the Hans Christian Andersen Award, which has been given since 1956.

Rowling's seven books about the wizarding world of Harry Potter have sold 400 million copies.