Page 3 Profile: Hans Christian Andersen, writer


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The Independent Online

Experts have found an undiscovered work?

Indeed they have, at the bottom of a filing box in Andersen's home in the Danish city of Odense. The Tallow Candle, thought to have been written by the author during his teenage years in the 1820s, is believed to be his earliest fairy tale.

What's it about?

It's the story of a dirty, misunderstood candle that gains a new lease of life when a tinder box sees the good in its heart and lights it. The candle "went on to shine for many a year, pleasing itself and the other creations around it", writes Andersen. Parallels can be drawn with Andersen's own life: the tale may have been written during his miserable time at grammar school.

Is it any good?

It's no Little Mermaid. In fact, it's a bit of an Ugly Duckling. Ejnar Stig Askgaard, one of the curators at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, told the Associated Press: "The text is not at the level of the more mature fairy tales we know from Andersen's later writing." But he said he was convinced the manuscript was authentic. "I often get calls about stuff thought to have been off Andersen's hand. Most of the time it is not. This time I was thrilled. This is a very early attempt at prose by Andersen, who was then 18," Mr Askgaard added.