Little Match Girl | Modern Interpretations

The story of Little Match Girl and its themes have appeared in literature and other forms of art. This page provides a small discussion of some of the better known treatments by authors and other artists.

Modern Interpretations

A Message from the Match Girl by Janet Taylor Lisle

Lisle, Janet Taylor. A Message from the Match Girl. New York: Orchard Books, 1995. Buy the book in paperback.

MIDDLE READERS NOVEL: Card catalog description: "Georgina and Poco try to help their friend Walter who is suffering from an identity crisis and receiving strange messages from his dead mother."

Matchless by Gregory Maguire

Maguire, Gregory. Matchless: A Christmas Story. New York: Orchard Books, 2009. Buy the book in hardcover.

NOVELLA: Publisher's description: "Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. This year, Gregory Maguire reinvents the Hans Christian Andersen classic "The Little Match Girl" for a new time and new audiences.

When it was first translated from Danish and published in England in the mid-19th century, audiences likely interpreted the Little Match Girl's dying visions of lights and a grandmother in heaven as metaphors of religious salvation. Maguire's new piece, entitled, "Matchless," re-illuminates Andersen's classic, using his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen's original intentions, and to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit and the continuity that links the living and the dead."

Rubly Slippers, Golden Tears

Bishop, Anne. "Match Girl." Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears.Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Avon, 1996. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.


Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City

Davis, Russell. "The Last Day of the Rest of Her Life." Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City. Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, eds. New York: DAW, 2004. Buy the book in paperback.


Goldilocks on Management: 27 Revisionist Fairy Tales for Serious Managers

Mayer, Gloria Gilbert and Thomas Mayer. "The Little Match Girl." Goldilocks on Management: 27 Revisionist Fairy Tales for Serious Managers. New York: American Management Association, 1999. Buy the book in hardcover.


Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Datlow and Windling

Oates, Joyce Carol. "You, Little Match Girl." Black Heart, Ivory Bones. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Avon, 2000. Buy the book in paperback.



Black Swan, White Raven edited by Datlow and Windling

Tem, Steve Rasnic. "The Little Match Girl." Black Swan, White Raven. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Avon, 1997. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

I have listed primarily classical compositions of music using the themes of this fairy tale in either ballet, opera or some other musical style. I have also provided links to popular recordings of the music when available at The advantage to these links is that you can listen to samples of the music at no charge.


Little Match Girl composed by Helmut Lachenmann

Lachenmann, Helmut. Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern (The Little Match Girl). 1988-96. ECM Records, 2004. Buy the it on CD. 


Little Match Girl composed by Loren Mazzacane Connors

Connors, Loren Mazzacane. The Little Match Girl. Road Cone, 2001. Buy the it on CD. (Song samples are also available on Amazon.)

From "The term outsider art often brings with it whiffs of exoticism and condescension, of jaded sophisticates turning to untutored oddballs to provide new sensations for their numbed palates. Electric guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors is every inch the outsider, but he caters to none of the label's stereotypes. He records most of his music alone at home, crafting perfectly shaped miniatures and arranging them into sequences that depict literary and historical themes. Then he packages the albums with his own stark photographs and drawings and releases them without fanfare on microlabels around the world. Connors imbues his improvisations with a refined compositional consciousness; each piece is assembled from one or two tracks of sparse, ringing notes that shine light on the soul's darkest recesses.

"'The Little Match Girl' comprises two suites. The first, titled after Hans Christian Andersen's sentimental fable, uses gentle contrapuntal melodies to evoke an air of transcendent serenity. The latter is called "The Art Of The Blues," but it's not a formal exercise in 12-bar riffing; instead Connors plumbs the blues' emotional depths in a succession of pithy tunes that are as spacious and haunting as Neil Young's soundtrack for the film "Dean Man." My only complaint is with the murky live recording of the second suite's beginning and ending segments, which distorts guest percussionist Neel Murgai's daf (a Persian drum). Otherwise, this record is an excellent addition to Connors' swelling discography. --Bill Meyer"

Little Match Girl composed by August Enna

Enna, August. The Little Match Girl. CPO Records, 2003. Buy the it on CD.

Striking 12, a rewired version of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Match Girl', Composed by Brendan Milburn, Rachel Sheinkin, Valerie Vigoda

Striking 12. The New GrooveLily Musical. PS Classics, 2004. Buy the it on CD. (Song samples are also available on Amazon.)

MUSICAL: Soundtrack for Striking 12's off-Broadway musical featuring The Little Match Girl.

To learn more about these films, please visit the
Internet Movie Database.


The Little Match Girl (1937). Arthur Davis, director. USA.

ANIMATED SHORT: Nominated for an Oscar. Read more about it on

Hansu Kurushitan Anderusan no sekai (1971). Al Kilgore & Chuck McCann, directors. Japan/USA. Also known as: The World of Hans Christian Andersen (USA).

Chuck McCann .... Uncle Oley (voice) 
Ruth Bailew .... (voice) 
Ron Dante .... Lullaby Vocalist (singing voice) 
Sidney Filson .... (voice) 
Hetty Galen .... Hans (voice)


The Little Match Girl (1974). Richard Bramall & Tom Robertson, directors. UK. Made for TV.

Lynsey Baxter .... Little Match Girl 
David Howe .... Arthur 
Robert Gray Jones .... Father 
Georgina Kean .... Harriet 
Annabelle Lanyon .... Charlotte

LIVE ACTION: From IMDB: "As a little girl is daydreaming out the window, her wicked father comes home. It's Christmas Eve. She tells her father that she was thinking about her Grandmother and of how nice Christmas was when she was alive. The father, angry and bitter, tells the girl that she must be out early to sell the matches or she can think about a beating. He tells her she needs to keep her mind on selling the matches and that she cannot come home until every one of them is sold. Then he laments about how, since her momma died, she is more than pain and trouble and is always in the way." Read more about it on

Little Match Girl VHS

The Little Match Girl (1983). Wally Broodbent & Mark Hoeger, directors. USA. Buy the film on VHS

LIVE ACTION: From IMDB: "Before she dies, a young girl's grandmother tells her a secret: the matches that the family sells are magic. After the grandmother passes away, the girl gets so wrapped up in the magic of the matches she neglects to sell them, putting her family in jeopardy." Read more about it on

The Little Match Girl (1987). Michael Custance, director. UK.

Christina Avery .... First Tart 
Fanny Carby .... Washerwoman 
Roger Daltrey .... Jeb Macklin 
Paul Daneman .... Mr. Fairbrother 
Nicola Dawn .... Lisa Fairbrother 
Kelly George .... First Urchin 
Pearl Hackney .... Mrs. Prothero 
Eithne Hannigan .... Second Tart 
Ian Hooper .... Second Urchin 
Jimmy Jewel .... Butler 
Stratford Johns .... Rich man 
Patricia Lawrence .... Maud 
Jennie Linden .... Mrs. Fairbrother 
Natalie Morse .... The Matchgirl 
Russell Lee Nash .... Arthur 
Twiggy .... Josie Roberts

MUSICAL/LIVE ACTION: From IMDB: "The story of a little matchgirl (Morse) who lives with her alcoholic dad (Daltrey) and his piece of stuff (Twiggy). She spends all day living on the streets selling matches when one day she meets a gorgeous guy (Nash). They have this sort-of friendship that she would like to take further. . . Until one night, she lights one of her matches to find that it takes her into a different world." Read more about it on

The Little Match Girl (1987). Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director. USA. Made for TV.

Maryedith Burrell .... Rita 
William Daniels .... Haywood Dutton 
William B. Davis .... Dr. Sam Easton (as Bill Davis) 
Hallie Foote .... Mary-Margaret Dutton 
Keshia Knight Pulliam .... Molly 
Rue McClanahan .... Frances Dutton 
Jim Metzler .... Joseph Dutton 
Stephen E. Miller .... Coffee & Doughnut Vendor
John Rhys-Davies .... Police Chief Murphy

LIVE ACTION: From IMDB: "'The Little Match Girl' stars Keshia Knight-Pulliam, Rue McLanahan, William Daniels, and John Rhys-Davies. It's a wonderful story and has excellent performances by both Keshia Knight-Pulliam and Rue McLanahan. If you've read the story by Hans Christian Anderson then you know the story if you don't then here it is. Heywood Dutton has been torn from his son because of a feud that has happened a few years prior. Rue McLanahan stars as Frances Dutton who is trying to bring the two together one magical Christmas. Pulliam is Molly, the match girl who every time she strikes a match something good happens. This is a wonderful story and young as well as old will enjoy this." Read more about it on

The Little Match Girl (1991). Michael Sporn, director. USA.

F. Murray Abraham .... Narrator 
Perry Kiefer .... Jazzman 
Theresa Smythe .... Angela 
Heidi Stallings .... Aunt Fritzi Ritz

ANIMATED SHORT: Read more about it on

La Vendedora de rosas (1998). Víctor Gaviria, director. Colombia. Also known as: The Rose Seller (USA). 

Lady Tabares .... Mónica 
Marta Correa .... Judy 
Mileider Gil .... Andrea 
Diana Murillo .... Cachetona 
Liliana Giraldo .... Claudia 

From "13-year-old Monica leads a street life, making her living by selling flowers to couples in local nightspots, she is joined by 10-year-old Andrea who runs out of her house after her mother beats her." Read more about it on

Sungnyangpali sonyeoui jaerim (2002). Sun-Woo Jang, director. South Korea.

Also known as: Resurrection of the Little Match Girl(International: English title). 

Eun-kyeong Lim .... Little Match Girl 
Hyun-sung Kim .... Ju 
Jin-pyo Kim .... Lee 
Sing Jin .... Lala

LIVE ACTION: From IMDB: "To Chinese restaurant delivery boy 'Ju', the only joy in life is spending time at the electronic game room. One day, 'Ju' who was engrossed in an electronic game as usual, is advised to log-on to a game called RESURRECTION OF THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL. The match selling girl of Andersen's fairytale is revived through the game, and 'Ju' is drawn into the little girl's virtual reality. As reality and cyberspace interchange, 'Ju', like in the famous fairytale, is given the mission to save the little girl from danger and lead her to a peaceful death. However, the two are not only confronted by a gigantic force called the System, that attempts to stop them, but other obstacles that place their lives in danger..." Read more about it on

The Little Match Girl (2004). James Ricker, director. Canada.

Nikki Barnett .... Little match girl

LIVE ACTION SHORT: Read more about it on

H.C. Andersens eventyrlige verden: Den lille pige med svovlstikkerne (2005). Jørgen Bing, director. Denmark.

Also known as: H.C. Andersen: The Little Match Girl(International: English title). 

ANIMATED: Read more about it on

Little Match Girl (2006)

The Little Match Girl (2006). Roger Allers, director. USA.

ANIMATED SHORT: Read more about it on

Striking 12, a rewired version of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Match Girl', Composed by Brendan Milburn, Rachel Sheinkin, Valerie Vigoda

Striking 12. The New GrooveLily Musical. Buy the the soundtrack on CD.

From Striking 12's website: "Ever had the end-of-year blues? Who hasn’t? Come take a hip little trip with one of the most acclaimed bands in the country, GrooveLily, as they spread some warmth on the cold winter nights, performing their wacky rewiring of Hans Christian Andersen’s THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL. Their festive fairy tale is a clever mix of musical comedy, pop-rock tunes and old fashioned uplift that will ignite your holiday spirit and illuminate your New Year in a rockin’ performance that cannot be matched!"

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