The Prince and the Pauper
Mark Twain’s satiric novel about two boys who trade places in Tudor England—written “for young people of all ages”—was his first foray into historical fiction.
Set in 1547, The Prince and the Pauper brings together Tom Canty, an impoverished urchin who lives with his abusive father in London’s filthiest streets, and pampered Prince Edward, the son of King Henry VIII. Noticing their uncanny resemblance, the two boys trade clothes on a whim. While Tom lives in the lap of luxury and finds he has a knack for rendering wise judgments, the ragged Prince Edward roams the city and discovers firsthand the misery of his poorest subjects’ lives. But when the king dies and Edward tries to claim his throne, he finds that changing places will be difficult to undo. In this rollicking tale, Twain’s scathing indictment of injustice comes richly clothed in his trademark humor and wit.