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Prince and the Pauper

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Prince and the Pauper

This article is about the original 1881 novel. For various film adaptations, see The Prince and the Pauper (film).
The Prince and the Pauper
1st US edition
Author Mark Twain
Country Set in England; written in the United States
Language English
Genre Realistic Fiction
Children's literature
Publisher James R. Osgood & Co.
Publication date 1881 (Canada)
1882 (United States)
Media type Print
Pages 418
Preceded by A Tramp Abroad
Followed by Life on the Mississippi

The Prince and the Pauper is a novel by American author Mark Twain. It was first published in 1881 in Canada, before its 1882 publication in the United States. The novel represents Twain's first attempt at historical fiction. Set in 1547, it tells the story of two young boys who are identical in appearance: Tom Canty, a pauper who lives with his abusive father in Offal Court off Pudding Lane in London, and Prince Edward, son of King Henry VIII.


Tom Canty (youngest son of a family living with the dregs of society in Offal Court) has always aspired to a better life, encouraged by the local priest (who has taught him to read and write). Loitering around the palace gates one day, he sees a prince (the Prince of Wales – Edward VI). Tom is nearly caught and beaten by the Royal Guards; however, Edward stops them and invites Tom into his palace chamber. There the two boys get to know one another, fascinated by each other's life and their uncanny resemblance. They decide to switch clothes "temporarily". Edward leaves in a hurry before the boys are caught at their game, snatching up an article of national importance (which the reader later learns is the Great Seal of England). Soon Prince Edward is trying to escape the brutality of Tom's abusive, drunken father; Tom, posing as the prince, tries to cope with court customs and manners. His fellow nobles and palace staff think "the prince" has an illness which has caused memory loss, and fear he will go mad. They repeatedly ask him about the missing "Great Seal", but he knows nothing about it. However, when Tom is asked to sit in on judgments his common-sense observations reassure them his mind is sound.

Edward soon meets Miles Hendon, a soldier and nobleman returning from war. Although Miles does not believe Edward's claims to royalty, he humors him and becomes his protector. Meanwhile, news reaches them that King Henry VIII has died and Edward is now the king.

As Edward experiences the brutish life of a pauper firsthand, he becomes aware of the stark class inequality in England; in particular, he sees the harsh, punitive nature of the English judicial system where people are burned at the stake, pilloried and flogged. He realizes that the accused are convicted on flimsy evidence (and branded – or hanged – for petty offenses), and vows to reign with mercy when he regains his rightful place. When Edward unwisely declares to a gang of thieves that he is the king and will put an end to unjust laws, they assume he is insane and hold a mock coronation.

After a series of adventures (including a stint in prison), Edward interrupts the coronation as Tom is about to celebrate it as King Edward VI. Tom is eager to give up the throne; however, the nobles refuse to believe that the beggarly child Edward appears to be is the rightful king until he produces the Great Seal that he hid before leaving the palace. Tom declares that if anyone had bothered to describe the seal he could have produced it at once, since he had found it inside a decorative suit of armor (where Edward had hidden it) and had been using it to crack nuts.

Edward and Tom switch back to their original places, and Miles is rewarded with the rank of earl and the family right to sit in the presence of the king. In gratitude for supporting the new king's claim to the throne, Edward names Tom the "king's ward" (a privileged position he holds for the rest of his life). They live happily for sometime.


The Prince and the Pauper was adapted for the stage, an adaptation which involved Twain in litigation with the playwright. It opened on Broadway in 1920 under the direction of William Faversham, with Ruth Findlay playing both Tom Canty and Prince Edward.[1] In 1946, the story was adapted by Classic Comics to comic book format in issue 29.

The novel has also been the basis of several films. A much-abridged 1920 silent version was produced (as one of his first films) by Alexander Korda in Austria entitled Der Prinz und der Bettelknabe. The 1937 version starred Errol Flynn (as Hendon) and twins Billy and Bobby Mauch as Tom Canty and Edward Tudor, respectively. It was originally intended to coincide with the coronation of King George VI; however, its release was delayed until the following year.

In 1957 CBS' DuPont Show of the Month offered an adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper, with Johnny Washbrook of My Friend Flicka as Tom Canty and Rex Thompson as Prince Edward. A 1962 three-part Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color television adaptation featured Guy Williams as Miles Hendon. Both Prince Edward and Tom Canty were played by Sean Scully, using an early version of the split-screen technique which the Disney studios would later use in The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills. The Prince and the Pauper had been filmed in Shepperton, England a year earlier.[2][3][4] The 21st episode of The Monkees, aired on February 6, 1967, was entitled "The Prince and the Paupers".

In a 1976 ABC Afterschool Special, Lance Kerwin played the dual role in a modern American-based adaptation of the story entitled P.J. and the President's Son. The BBC produced a television adaptation by writer Richard Harris, consisting of six thirty-minute episodes, in 1976. Nicholas Lyndhurst played both Prince Edward and Tom Canty. It was adapted again in 1996.

A 1977 film version of the story, starring Oliver Reed as Miles Hendon, co-starring Rex Harrison (as the Duke of Norfolk), Mark Lester and Raquel Welch and directed by Richard Fleischer, was released in the UK as The Prince and the Pauper and in the US as Crossed Swords. In 1978 NBC broadcast Ringo, a television special featuring Ringo Starr which was loosely based on The Prince and The Pauper.

The Walt Disney Company made a 1990 animated 24-minute short film, inspired by the novel and starring Mickey Mouse. In this version, Mickey trades places with himself and is supported by other Disney characters. In 2000, it was adapted again as a live-action version. In 2004 it was adapted yet again, this time into an 85-minute CGI-animated musical, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, with Barbie playing the blonde Princess Anneliese and the brunette pauper Erika. Martin Short provided the voice for the villain, Preminger, and the film was released directly to DVD and VHS. In 2006 Garfield's second live-action film, entitled Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, was yet another adaptation of the classic story.

In 1996 C&E, a Taiwanese software company, released an RPG video game for Sega Genesis entitled Xin Qigai Wangzi ("New Beggar Prince"). Its story was inspired by the book, with the addition of fantastic elements such as magic, monsters and other RPG themes. The game was ported to PC in 1998. It was eventually licensed in an English translation and released in 2006 as Beggar Prince by independent game publisher Super Fighter Team. This was one of the first new games for the discontinued Sega platform since 1998, and is perhaps the first video-game adaptation of the book.

A 2000 film directed by Giles Foster starred Aidan Quinn (as Miles Hendon), Alan Bates, Jonathan Hyde, Jonathan and Robert Timmins. An Off-Broadway musical with music by Neil Berg opened at Lamb's Theatre on June 16, 2002. The original cast included Dennis Michael Hall as Prince Edward, Gerard Canonico as Tom Canty, Rob Evan as Miles Hendon, Stephen Zinnato as Hugh Hendon, Rita Harvey as Lady Edith, Michael McCormick as John Canty, Robert Anthony Jones as the Hermit/Dresser, Sally Wilfert as Mary Canty, Allison Fischer as Lady Jane and Aloysius Gigl as Father Andrew. The musical closed August 31, 2003. A 2007 film, A Modern Twain Story: The Prince and the Pauper starred identical twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse. In some versions, Prince Edward carries identification when he assumes Tom's role. While animations such as the Mickey Mouse version retell the story, other cartoons employ parody (including an episode of Johnny Bravo in which Twain appears, begging cartoonists to "let this tired story die".

It Takes Two, starring twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, is a loose translation of this story in which two girls (one wealthy and the other an orphan, who resemble each other) switch places in order to experience each other's lives. The film is a composite of The Prince and the Pauper and the 1961 Disney film The Parent Trap. An episode of Kappa Mikey, entitled "Mikey and the Pauper", involves Mikey Simon switching lives with Jomar, an urchin who looks like Mikey in anime form. Canadian band Moxy Früvous recorded "King of Spain", a retelling of the story with the former king working at Pizza Pizza. The TV series Wishbone featured an episode entitled "The Prince and the Pooch".

A Hindi film version, Raja Aur Runk, was released in 1968 and directed by Kotayya Pratyagatma. The film "Indianized" many of the episodes in the original story. The 1993 comedy Dave had a twist: after the President of the United States suffers a stroke, his body double Dave is pressed into service as a puppet president by the White House chief of staff. The Pokémon episode "Dawn of a Royal Day" has the main female character, Dawn, trade lives with a princess named Salvia so Salvia can compete in a Pokémon contest.

The BBC TV comedy series Blackadder the Third has an episode where the Prince Regent believes that the Duke of Wellington is after him. The prince swaps clothes with Blackadder (who is his butler) and says, "This reminds of that story 'The Prince and the Porpoise'". Blackadder corrects him: "Pauper. The Prince and the Pauper". Since Blackadder the Third is set during the early 1800s, this is an anachronism. An episode of Phineas and Ferb ("Make Play") follows a similar storyline, with Candace switching places with Princess Baldegunde of Duselstein and discovering that royal life is dull. The film The Devil's Double was based on a true story in which Uday Hussein chooses a double who is an Iraqi civilian. Film critic Roger Ebert has suggested that Trading Places (starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy) has similarities to Twain's tale due to the two characters' switching lives (although not by choice).[5]

In 2012, a second-CGI musical adaptation was released, entitled Barbie: The Princess and the Popstar. In it, Barbie plays a princess blonde named Victoria (Tori), and a brunette popstar named Keira. Both crave the life of another, one day they meet and magically change places.

English playwright Jemma Kennedy adapted the story into a musical drama which was performed at the Unicorn Theatre in London 2012-2013, directed by Selina Cartmell and starring twins Danielle Bird and Nichole Bird as the Prince and Pauper and Jake Harders as Miles Hendon.[6]

See also


External links

  • The Prince and the Pauper – searchable, indexed e-text.
  • Illustrations for The Prince and the Pauper
  • The Disney version of The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts

Template:The Prince and the Pauper

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