The story, 'The Tallow Candle,' was discovered by a historian in the private archives of a Danish family.
It was a chance discovery seemingly out of a fairy tale.
Experts in Denmark unearthed “The Tallow Candle,” what they believe is the first fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, found at the bottom of a box near the Danish writer’s home city of Odense.
Local historian Esben Brage was searching the private archives of a Danish family in the National Archive for Funen in Odense when he came across a small, yellowing piece of paper at the bottom of a box. Experts scrutinized the six-page, 700-word handwritten copy of the fairy tale and determined it was written by Andersen, reports the Associated Press.
“This is a sensational discovery,’ Ejnar Stig Askgaard of the Odense City Museum told the Danish paper Politiken. “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.” He added, “And I am in no doubt that it was written by Andersen.”
The tale tells the story of a grimy little candle, soiled by life and neglected until a tinder box sees its inner beauty and lights it. “The Tallow Candle had found its right place in life – and shown that it was a real candle, and went on to shine for many a year, pleasing itself and the other creatures around it,” Andersen wrote in the story.