The Prince and the Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper

Susy Clemens wrote of the book: "I have wanted papa to write a book that would reveal his kind sympathetic nature, and the 'Prince and Pauper' partly does it. The book is full of lovely charming ideas, and oh the language! it is perfect, I think."
Released in 1881 by publishers James Osgood & Co. First edition contained 431 pages and 191 illustrations.
Not satiric and comic like his earlier books, Prince and Pauper was Twain's stab at respectablity; a book to get him accepted by the genteel Hartford society that he was living among.
Clemens researched thoroughly the history of the 16th century, when the book takes place; he read English history books and wrote long lists of words commonly used during the period, often turning to Shakespeare and Walter Scott for reference.

Excerpt
At this point, just as he was raising his hand to fling another rich largess, he caught sight of a pale, astounded face which was strained forward out of the second rank of the crowd, its intense eyes riveted upon him. A sickening consternation struck through him; he recognized his own mother!...She embraced his leg, she covered it with kisses, she cried, "O my child, my darling!" lifting toward him a face that was transfigured with joy and love. The same instant an officer of the King's Guard snatched her away with a curse, and sent her reeling back whence she came....and as she turned for a last glimpse of him, whilst the crowd was swallowing her from his sight, she seemed so wounded, so broken-hearted, that a shame fell upon him which consumed his pride to ashes, and withered his stolen royalty.
Edward VI in the book is a few years older than the real one at the time of his becoming king; also, the real-life Edward was a sickly child, unlike the healthy, courageous boy in the book.
Livy Clemens wrote a dramatic adaption of the novel, which the family performed at home; Sam would play Miles Hendon.
The first professional dramatic adaptation was staged in Philadelphia in 1889; Thomas Edison made a short slient film adaptation in 1891, which Sam Clemens had a brief appearance in.
The real-life Edward VI (the "Prince" of the title) was the son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour; he ascended to the throne upon his father's death on Jan. 28, 1547, at the age of nine years, reigning for only five and a half years; he died of measles, tuberculosis, and smallpox.

Summary
The Prince and the Pauper tells of the real-life events of 1547 England, when King Henry VIII died and his son, Edward VI, took over the throne. Added to this historical fact is the fantastic story that shortly before the death of the king, Edward inadvertantly switches places with Tom Canty, a pauper. The eye-opening experiences of both boys in their new roles comprise the bulk of the book.

Edward is tormented by John Canty, Tom's father, a drunken thief. In his first night at Tom's home, he is beaten for claiming to be the Prince of Wales, a claim that he continually makes throughout the book, regardless of the inappropriateness of the situation. Edward eventually escapes from Tom's home and meets Miles Hendon, a swashbuckling nobleman returning to England after being away for 10 years as a soldier and prisoner. Hendon decides to protect Edward, feeling sorry for a boy who must be sick, considering his incessant claims to the English throne.

Tom is also thought to be not in his right mind, and is tutored by the Earl of Hertford, the lord-protector to the young king. Tom masters the role of prince expertly, and makes merciful decisions over his subjects. On his coronation day, however, he sees his real mother in the crowd and is overtaken with guilt over the wrongful nature of his role.

The book climaxes at the coronation ceremony, when Edward appears just in the nick of time to reclaim his rightful place as king.

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