A historian in Denmark may have discovered Hans Christian Andersen’s first fairy tale ever. The story, called “The Tallow Candle,” was discovered at the bottom of an old box in Denmark’s national library. Politiken Denmark spoke with Ejnar Stig Askgaard of the Odense City Museum, who has been studying the discovery:
“This is a sensational discovery. Partly because it must be seen as Andersen’s first fairy tale, and partly because it shows that he was interested in the fairy tale as a young man, before his authorship began”, Askgaard says. “And I am in no doubt that it has been written by Andersen”, he adds.
The front page of the story is dedicated to a Madam Bunkenflod, who lived across the street from Andersen’s childhood home. Discovery writes:
Historians know that the writer visited her often as a child, borrowing her books.
“The fairy tale was a present. A present of thanks to a woman whose home had been very important to him,” Askgaard said.
The Bunkeflod family then sent the manuscript to another family close to Andersen, the Plum family, in whose archives the story was found. A dedication written on the document later in blue ink reads: “To P Plum from his friend Bunkeflod.”
If this is indeed Andersen’s first ever fairy tale, it certainly wasn’t his last. He wrote 160 stories, many of which are still familiar to us today—The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Thumbelina and The Princess and the Pea. A full list of his stories can be found here.
The entire Tallow Candle story can be found here. It tells the life story of a candle whose mother was a sheep (who gave it a “shiny white body and an inkling about life”) and father was a melting pot (who gave the candle “a craving for the flaming fire that would eventually go through its marrow and bone and shine for it in life).
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