The first fairytale written by Hans Christian Andersen has been found at the bottom of a box in Denmark's national archives, near the writer's home city.

Entitled The Tallow Candle, the tale tells the story of a candle that becomes grimy and neglected until its inner beauty is recognised when a tinder box lights its wick.

The ink-written manuscript is a copy of an original manuscript that has since been lost.

It was written when the author of The Ugly Duckling was just a schoolboy in the 1820s.

The manuscript is dedicated to Mrs Bunkeflod, who is thought to be a widow whom the writer visited and borrowed books from as a child.

Historian Esben Brage made the chance finding in a filing box at the National Archives of Funen in October and experts have since scrutinised the copy of the 700-word manuscript.

Andersen wrote hundreds of fairytales which have since been translated into more than 100 languages.