Published in 1845, The Little Match Girl is often considered to be one of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's better known fairy tales; it is a short story that tells the very sad tale of a little girl who is so poor that she has to sell matches on the street, fearful that if she does not sell enough then her father will beat her. At the end of the story she is reunited with her beloved grandmother in Heaven, but not before she has perished in the cold, all alone.
Although the story is tragic, and does not have a traditionally happy ending, it is still considered a fairy tale because at the end the little girl is reunited with the only person in the world who has ever been kind to her, showing that even from Heaven her grandmother is looking out for her, and trying to bring her close to her again.
The tale has been adapted many times for the big screen; the two most notable adaptations were a Hello Kitty version of the story, and also Disney's sort animation that was originally intended to be part of Fantasia, but was subsequently released as a stand alone short film, receiving an Oscar nomination in the Best Short category. It has also appeared in countless comic book adaptations, in games and also as part of a theme park attraction.
Hans Christian Andersen, who was more usually published as H.C. Andersen, is best remembered for writing fairy tales, despite the fact that he wrote plays, novels, poems and travel journals as well. One of the reasons for the enduring popularity and longevity of his fairy tales is that they appeal to both adults and children, bringing different messages to each. In the case of the Little Match Girl herself, adults are reached by a message that the little girl is relieved of her suffering on earth and that her death is not actually a sad thing; children, on the other hand, are more fixated on the magical powers of a shooting star. In all, Andersen wrote three thousand, three hundred and eighty one fairy tales, including The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Emperor's New Clothes.