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By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Although the true origin of the story is widely debated, one common theory is that Saint-Exupéry was inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. In the early 1940s, Saint-Exupéry was stuck in a hospital while he recovered from various injuries that had piled up from his plane crashes, and he was bored out of his mind. His friend Annabella decided to read him a story—"The Little Mermaid"—that got Saint-Exupéry thinking about writing a fairy tale of his own.