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Early Christian Andersen work shakes literary world

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 9:36 p.m.
A manuscript recently located in Odense, Denmark, might have been written by Hans Christian Andersen about 1823, when he was 18 years old. AP

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — For years, the somber fairy tale about a lonely candle that wanted to be lit dwelt in oblivion at the bottom of a box in Denmark's National Archives. Its discovery has sent ripples through the literary world because it is thought to be one of the first tales ever written by Hans Christian Andersen.

The famed Dane wrote nearly 160 fairy tales in his life, including classics such as “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid.”

Retired historian Esben Brage said that he found the six-page text on Oct. 4 while searching archive boxes that had belonged to wealthy families from Andersen's hometown of Odense.

The handwritten copy of the tale, titled “Tallow Candle,” and dedicated to a vicar's widow named Bunkeflod who had lived across from Andersen's home, had been left seemingly untouched at the bottom of one of the boxes.

A senior curator at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense said the work is likely one of the author's earliest, written at the age of 18 — seven years before his official debut in 1830.

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