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Early Hans Christian Andersen work found

13th December 2012

One of Hans Christian Andersen's earliest works has been found in Denmark's national archives, it has been revealed.

The Tallow Candle, a short story about a candle that becomes neglected until its true beauty is recognised, was stumbled upon by historian Esben Brage, who found it at the bottom of a box near the Danish writer's home city, Odense.

Experts believe the author, fairytale writer and poet, whose other works include The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Red Shoes, wrote the tale in the 1820s, making it one of his very earliest works.

Researchers who analysed the manuscript say The Tallow Candle is not as elegant and crafted as Andersen's mature works, suggesting it was written when he was a schoolboy.

The tale, written in ink on yellowing pages, is dedicated: 'To Mme Bunkeflod, from her devoted HC Andersen.' It is thought Bunkeflod was a widow who Andersen knew as a child.

Speaking to the Politiken newspaper, Andersen expert Ejnar Stig Askgaard said the discovery was 'sensational'.

'Partly because it must be seen as Andersen's first fairytale and partly because it shows that he was interested in the fairytale as a young man, before his authorship began,' he added.

Andersen, who lived from 1805 until 1875, has had his works translated into more than 100 languages. Some of his other well-known stories include Thumbelina and The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

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