The Little Match Girl
|"The Little Match Girl"|
A. J. Bayes illustration, 1889
|Author||Hans Christian Andersen|
|Original title||"Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne"|
|Published in||Dansk Folkekalender for 1846|
|Publication date||December 1845|
"The Little Match Girl" (Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne, meaning "The little girl with the matchsticks") is a short story 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 an animated short film and a television musical.
On a cold New Year's Eve, a poor young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and early hypothermia. Still, she is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches. She shelters in a nook and sits down.
The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star; she then remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.
After running out of matches the child dies, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the child dead in the nook and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she and her grandmother are now celebrating the New Year in Heaven. 
"The Little Match Girl" was first published 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).
Amusement park attractions
- The Fairy Tale Forest (Sprookjesbos in Dutch) of the amusement park Efteling in the Netherlands has a three-dimensional attraction showing the story of the Little Match Girl, called Het Meisje met de Zwavelstokjes. In this attraction, use is made of the pepper's ghost technique.
Anime and manga
- In Is the Order a Rabbit?, Syaro starts daydreaming while handing out flyers, humorously seeing it as a death flag when she connects her actions to the match girl.
- Chapter 18 of the manga series Binbou Shimai Monogatari (2004) replays the tale of "The Little Match Girl", featuring the protagonists Asu and Kyou with a happy ending twist.
- In the Japanese anime Gakuen Alice, the main character, Mikan Sakura puts on a play about The Little Match Girl to earn money.
- "Girl Who Doesn't Sell Matches But is Misfortunate Anyway" is the final episode of the 2010 anime series Ōkami-san, which draws inspiration from various fairy tales. The episode features a character called Machiko Himura, who is based on the little match girl.
- "The Little Key Frames Girl", episode 11 of the anime Shirobako (2014), episode 11 of the anime, humorously replays the whole match girl story from a more modern and lower stakes point of view.
- "Christmas Osomatsu-san", episode 11 of the anime Osomatsu-san (2015), Iyami humorously acts as The Little Match Girl, but dies at end.
- Match Shoujo, a manga by Sanami Suzuki (2014–15), is being made into a live-action film starring Sumire Sato, as the title character.
- "Let's Get Wiggy With It", episode 2 of the anime Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (2003–05), Don Patch humorously recites a story of him selling Churros at Christmas time with no one buying, showing a Churro buried and covered in snow in the end resembling death.
- In issue #112 of Bill Willingham's Fables (a comic book series about living embodiments of storybook characters), The Little Match Girl is introduced to Rose Red as one of the paladins of the embodiment of Hope, ostensibly on the night that the girl is doomed to die (Christmas Eve, in this telling). The child identifies herself as "the caretaker of hope deferred", braving the deadly cold and saving the meager pennies she earns towards the promise of a better life in the future, and stubbornly denying that her death is close at hand.
16mm short subject films
- In 1954, Castle Films released a 16 mm English language version of a 1952 black and white French short live-action film. Instead of her grandmother, the Virgin Mary, whom the match girl believes is her own long-lost mother, takes the girl to Heaven. No mention is made of the father beating the child.
- Color Rhapsodies (1937), a Charles Mintz studio color adaptation including the grim ending, considered among the studio's best films. It was nominated for the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons), and lost to Disney's short The Old Mill. This version of the story is slightly different from Andersen's story, specifically near the end.
- Hans Christian Andersen no Sekai (1971, The World of Hans Christian Andersen), Toei Animation's animated film based on Andersen's works
- The Little Match Girl (2003), an animated short film by Junho Chung for Fine Cut: KCET's Festival of Student Film
- "The Little Match Girl" (2005), ADV Films' adaptation released in Hello Kitty Animation Theater, Vol. 3.
- The Little Match Girl (2006), the last of four Walt Disney Feature Animation shorts originally intended to be part of a Fantasia (1940) compilation film, which project was canceled. This short was then developed as a stand-alone film and was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, losing to The Danish Poet. This short was subsequently released as a special feature on the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid (1989). In 2015, the short was released on the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection Blu-ray Disc.
- The Little Match Seller (1902), a short silent film directed by James Williamson
- The Little Match Girl (1928, La Petite Marchande d'Allumettes), a 40-minute silent film by Jean Renoir
- La Jeune Fille aux Allumettes (1952), French director Jean Benoît-Lévy's film version, includes a brief dance sequence with ballet star Janine Charrat
- La vendedora de rosas (1998; Little Rose Selling Girl), directed by Víctor Gaviria, is a film by Colombian movie about homeless children victims of solvent abuse, loosely based on "The Little Match Girl"; it earned a Palme d'Or nomination at the Cannes Film Festival
- Resurrection of the Little Match Girl (2003) is a Korean movie.
- Matchstick Girl (2015), a modern adaptation short film set in the UK, was produced and directed by Joann Randles
- Match Shojo (2016), a Japanese adaptation of Sanami Suzuki's manga starring Sumire Sato.
- Suikoden III, (2002), a video game for the PlayStation 2, contains a highly abridged play version of "The Little Match Girl". In the game, the player can cast characters in different roles and have them perform a shortened version of the story.
- Yakuza 5, (2012), a video game for the PlayStation 3 has a substory named "The Little Match Girl" during Taiga Saejima's segment of the game that involves a little girl selling matches for 100 yen.
- The Little Match Girl, (2015), a visual novel for web browsers and Android that tells the story.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine, in this version, the Little Match Girl, tired of seeing that no one buys her matches, starts selling tobacco, various alcohols and even drugs instead, stating that "it is much more profitable and demand is high".
- Anne Bishop published the short story "Match Girl" in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995).
- On page 319 of Clarissa Pinkola Estés' book Women Who Run With the Wolves (1992), "The Little Match Girl", the author tells the story to her aunt, followed by a lucid analysis.
- In Neil Gaiman's novella, A Study in Emerald (2004), the main characters view a set of three plays, one of which is a stage adaptation of the "Little Match Girl".
- Novelist Gregory Maguire read a short story based on "The Little Match Girl" over the air on NPR. He later expanded the short story into a novel, published as Matchless: A Christmas Story (2009).
- William McGonagall retold "The Little Match Girl" in a poem.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel, Hogfather (1996), gave the story a less morbid ending, thanks to the intervention of Death himself; acting as the Hogfather to compensate for the original's absence, he uses his status to give the little match girl a gift of a future.
- Hans Tseng adapted "The Little Match Girl" into a short story manga, featured in the first volume of Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga (2003).
- In Anne Ursu's novel Breadcrumbs (2011), the main character Hazel meets in the woods a character based on the Little Match Girl.
- In 1994, Frederik Magle released the album "The Song is a Fairytale" with songs based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales with Thomas Eje and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen amongst others. The Little Match Girl is one of the songs.
- In 1988–96, the German avant-garde composer Helmut Lachenmann wrote an opera based on the story called Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, also including a text by Red Army Faction founder Gudrun Ensslin.
- In 1995, German singer Meret Becker included the song "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern" in her album Noctambule.
- In 2001, guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors released the album The Little Match Girl based on the story.
- In 2001, the Hungarian band Tormentor wrote the song "The Little Match Girl," with lyrics based on the story.
- In 2002, GrooveLily released Striking 12, a musical based on "The Little Match Girl". The story was also used as a basis for the band GrooveLily's 2004 off-Broadway musical Striking 12.
- In 2005, Erasure made a music video of their song "Breathe", based on a modern adaptation of the story.
- In 2006, the English band The Tiger Lillies and a string trio released the album "The Little Match Girl" based on the story.
- American composer David Lang completed his own rendition of the original story in 2007. The Little Match Girl Passion is scored for four solo voices, soprano, alto, tenor and bass, with percussion, and was written for Paul Hillier and his ensemble Theater of Voices. The work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2008. It presents Hans Christian Andersen's tale in Lang's characteristic post-minimalist style with thematic influence from Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions.
- In 2012, The Crüxshadows recorded the song "Matchstick Girl" on their album As the Dark Against My Halo. According to front-man for the band, Rogue, the song "Matchstick Girl" refers to Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Little Match Girl.
- Tori Amos's 2015 musical The Light Princess includes the song "My Fairy-Story" where the main character reads this story and compares it to her own situation.
- In 2015, Japanese techno-rap unit, 水曜日のカンパネラ (Suiyoubi no Campanella) produced the song 「マッチ売りの少女」(Macchi Uri no Shoujo), which is the Japanese title for "The Little Match Girl".
- In 1974, a contemporarized version set in Cincinnati on Christmas Eve was aired on WLWT. This Christmas special was placed in syndication and last aired on the Family Channel in December 1982.
- In 1987, HTV released The Little Match Girl as a musical based on the original story. The cast included Twiggy and Roger Daltrey. It included the song "Mistletoe and Wine", which became a Christmas hit a year later for Cliff Richard.
- In 1987, a modernized version, The Little Match Girl, was shown on American television. The cast included Keshia Knight Pulliam, Rue McClanahan, and William Daniels.
- In 2009, a modernized version set to original music and narrated by F. Murray Abraham was presented by HBO Storybook Musicals, in which the girl is the daughter of a homeless New York couple forced to live underground in an abandoned subway station due to the economic collapse of the 1990s.
- In 2015, a short parody version was featured in the first episode of season 8 of Adult Swim's Robot Chicken. In this sketch version, the girl learns the power of fire with the matches and burns her father to death for his abuse.
- List of works by Hans Christian Andersen
- Near death experience
- Vilhelm Pedersen, the first illustrator of Andersen's fairy tales
- "To Build a Fire", two versions of a short story by Jack London about an adult who suffers from hypothermia in the Yukon Territory
- Tatar, Maria (2008). The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-06081-2.
- "Hans Christian Andersen: The Little Match Girl". Hans Christian Andersen Center.
- Efteling – 'The Little Match Girl' in Fairy tale forest (Het meisje met de zwavelstokjes) (video)
- Doty, Meriah (4 June 2015). "'Frozen Fever' (and Easter Eggs!) Coming Soon on Disney Shorts Blu-ray (Exclusive)". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
- "Ryu Ga Gotoku 5 / Yakuza 5 SUBSTORY - The Little Match Girl". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- VanderWerff, Todd (19 November 2009). "Matchless: A Christmas Story". AV Club. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
- McGonagall, William. "The Little Match Girl." Poetry Foundation.2010. Web. 26 February 2010.
- "The Song is a Fairytale". magle.dk. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Nick Smurthwaite (21 March 2005). "Million pound notes – Keith Strachan". The Stage. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- "INTERVIEW: West End director Keith Strachan takes Dancing In The Streets on tour". This is London. 20 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Little Match Girl.|
- "The Little Match Girl" Jean Hersholt's English translation
-  "The Little Match Girl" in the New Normal Reader
- Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne Original Danish text
- Surlalune: The Annotated Little Match Girl
- "The Little Matchgirl" Creative Commons audiobook
- "The Little Match Girl 1902 Adaptation (downloadable)" at the British Film Institute
- David Lang's passion
- English translation (full text) from "Andersen's Fairy Tales"
- The Little Match Girl public domain audiobook at LibriVox