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the forgotten fairytale

Hans Christian Andersen was one of the greats. I grew up watching tv adaptations of his stories; laughing at the Emperor and his ‘new clothes’, pitying the tin solider and wondering at the tiny Thumbelina.

Much loved stories, every one of them. But we can now add one more tale to the bedtime tuck-in.

A Danish historian has found the earliest Hans Christian Andersen story to date. As this article says, it was written when Andersen was a young man, around 18 years of age. The forgotten fairytale is called ‘The Tallow Candle’ and was apparently dedicated to a widow that Andersen knew.

According to this Wikipedia page, ‘The Tallow Candle’ is a short story (about 700 words long) and details a candle looking for his life’s purpose. I don’t know about you, but it sounds adorable.

Some critics have turned their noses up at the sweet little tallow candle (heartless bastards) because the early work is plain and doesn’t show Andersen’s humourous flair.

I’d hate to see what people think of my teenage short stories in a few hundred years time (or even now for that matter – oh, the cliches and the adverbs!).

It just goes to show that, even 190-odd years after you write a story, you can’t please everybody.


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