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History of Little Match Girl

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Hans Christian Andersen
Father of the Modern Fairy Tale 
by Terri Windling

The Little Match Girl 1902 Film Adaptation at The British Film Institute


The Little Matchgirl is an original tale by Hans Christian Andersen without any direct folkloric influence. The tale was inspired by the childhood experience of Andersen's mother. As a child, she was often sent out into the streets to beg. She, of course, lived and grew up to give birth to Andersen.

The tale has become a classic story, most popular around Christmas time for obvious reasons. Often reinterpreted in film, theatre, and books, the ending is sometimes changed to an ending in which the little match girl doesn't die, but is rescued from her cold and hunger by charitable persons.


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Little Match Girl illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Little Matchgirl illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Little Match Girl illustrated by Kveta Pacovska

The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen : A New Translation from the Danish by Jeffrey Frank

©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales
Page created 1/2006; Last updated 7/10/07