The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen - (Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne, meaning "The little girl with the sulphur-sticks", i.e. matches) is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. The story, about a dying child's dreams and hope, was first published in 1845. It has been adapted to various media, including animated, live-action, and VR films as well as television musicals.
On a freezing New Year's Eve, a poor young girl, shivering and barefoot, tries to sell matches in the street. Afraid to go home because her father would beat her for failing to sell any matches, she huddles in the alley between two houses and lights matches, one by one, to warm herself. However, the girl is ignored by passersby as no one buys from her, leaving her to suffer alone in the cold weather.
In the flame of the matches, she sees a series of comforting visions: the warm iron stove, the lovely roasted goose, the great glorious Christmas tree. Each vision disappears as its match burns out. In the sky she sees a shooting star, which her late grandmother had told her means someone is on their way to Heaven. In the flame of the next match she sees her late grandmother, the only person that ever treated her with love and kindness. To keep the vision of her grandmother alive as long as possible, the girl lights the entire bundle of matches.
When the matches are gone, the girl freezes to death, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the girl's body with a smile on her face, and express pity. They do not know about the wonderful visions she had seen or how happy she is with her grandmother in Heaven.
"The Little Match Girl" was first published in December 1845, in Dansk Folkekalender for 1846. The work was re-published as a part of New Fairy Tales (4 March 1848), Second Volume, Second Collection (Nye Eventyr (1848), Andet Bind, Anden Samling), and again 18 December 1849 as a part of Fairy Tales (1850; Eventyr). The work was also published 30 March 1863 as a part of Fairy Tales and Stories (1863), Second Volume (Eventyr og Historier (1863), Andet Bind).