It may seem that the easiest way to find the origins of fantasy literature would be to simply follow the trail of fantasy literature back in history until we get to the earliest examples of it, but that would cause some problems. For instance, when does fantasy cease to be fantasy and become legend or myth? Are we going to call Beowulf a fantasy story? Or the tales of the Greek and Egyptian gods? Or Gilgamesh? It gets kinda messy if we do that. And that's not really what we're looking for, anyway. No, we're trying to establish where our current model for fantasy writing comes from. Look back at the last post to see the list.
So, although we're not going to go looking for historical beginnings, we are going to start at the beginning. Or, at least, where all fantasy stories start: the orphan boy. Sure, sure, it's not always a boy; Disney has given us plenty of girls, after all; but, when we start talking about the genre of fantasy literature, it's nearly always a boy. Or, even, outside the strict confines of fantasy. Let's take a look at some of the most popular examples (and some that I just like):
Oh! Wait! That list is over on Indie Writers Monthly, but it's a good list, so you should go on over and read it. Go see if your favorite fantasy character made the cut!