A previously unknown fairy tale by the famed Danish author Hans Christian Andersen has been discovered.

Retired historian Esben Brage found the six-page story at the bottom of a box in Denmark's National Archives Oct. 4, the Associated Press reported.

Located in one of a number of archive boxes that had belonged to wealthy families from Andersen's hometown of Odense, the manuscript was apparently untouched for a long time.

The tale, called "Tallow Candle," details the story of a tallow candle trying to get out of a tinder box so that it could be lit, Ejnar Stig Askgaard, senior curator at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, told AP.

The story is dedicated to one of Andersen's neighbors. She was a vicar's widow named Bunkeflod who he often visited, either to borrow books or to read to her, according to Askgaard.

Askgaard and other experts suggest the story could be one of Andersen's earliest works. Written when he was 18, it predates his official literary debut in 1830 by seven years.

"The text is not at the level of the more mature fairy tales that we know from Andersen's later writing," Askgaard said. Still, he added, "We see traces of Andersen's history in the text, the language and the themes in the manuscript ... it all fits with him, it all bears his fingerprint."'

Andersen's Danish-language tale, "Doedningen," first published in 1830, has been considered Andersen's first fairy tale.

"I often get calls about stuff thought to have been of Andersen's hand. Most of the time, it is not. This time I was thrilled," Askgaard told AP.

Andersen is best known for such classic stories as "The Little Mermaid" and "The Ugly Duckling," among 160 other fairy tales. He also wrote novels, poems, and travel journals, and his works have been translated into many languages.