The Prince and the Pauper

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

The Prince and the Pauper is an English-language novel by American author Mark Twain. It was first published in 1881 in Canada before its 1882 publication in the United States. The book represents Twain's first attempt at historical fiction. Set in 1547, the novel 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 Edward VI of England, son of Henry VIII of England.


Plot summary

The novel begins with Tom Canty, an impoverished boy living with his abusive family in London. One day, Tom Canty and Prince Edward, the son of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, meet and as a jest, switch clothes. While dressed in the pauper's rags, the Prince leaves the palace to punish the guard who knocked Tom down. However, the boys look remarkably alike and because they switch clothes, the palace guards throw the prince out into the street. The Prince fares poorly in London because he insists on proclaiming his identity as the true Prince of Wales. Meanwhile despite Tom's repeated denial of his birthright, the court and the King insist that he is the true prince gone mad. Edward eventually runs into Tom's family and a gang of thieves and Twain illustrates England's unfair and barbaric justice system. After the death of Henry VIII, Edward interrupts Tom's coronation and the boys explain, switch places, and Edward is crowned King of England.

Film, TV, theatrical, and other adaptations

The book was later adapted for the stage in an episode that involved Twain in a serious lawsuit with the playwright.

Cover, Classic Comics (1946)

In 1946, the story was adapted by Classic Comics (issue 29) to comic book format.

The novel has also been the basis of several films. A silent version, much abridged, was produced, as one of his first films, by Alexander Korda in Austria in 1920 under the title 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. The film was originally intended to coincide with the coronation of King George VI, but its release was delayed and it was first screened the following year.

In 1957, the DuPont Show of the Month on CBS offered an adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper, with Johnny Washbrook (born 1944), of My Friend Flicka playing the role of Tom Canty and Rex Thompson (born 1942) as Prince Edward.

There was a 1962 Disney 3-part Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color television movie adaptation with actor Guy Williams as Miles Hendon. Both Prince Edward and Tom Canty were played by Sean Scully; using an early version of the same split-screen technique Disney studios would later employ in The Parent Trap, with Hayley Mills. It was filmed in Shepperton, England a year earlier for recording. [1][2][3]

The 21st episode of the Monkees' T.V. series, aired on February 6, 1967, was named The Prince and the Paupers.

In a 1976 ABC Afterschool Special, Lance Kerwin played the dual role in the modern-day American-based adaptation of the story titled, P.J. and the President's Son. The BBC produced a television adaptation by writer Richard Harris, consisting of six 30 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 Duke of Norfolk, Mark Lester and Raquel Welch, and directed by Richard Fleischer, was released in the UK as The Prince and the Pauper but in the US under the title Crossed Swords. In 1978, NBC broadcast Ringo, a television special featuring Ringo Starr that was loosely based on the plot of The Prince and The Pauper.

The Walt Disney Company made a 24-minute short inspired by the book starring Mickey Mouse, which was released in 1990. In 2000 it was adapted again into 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 both the blonde Princess Anneliese and the brunette pauper, Erika. Martin Short provided the voice for the villain, Preminger. 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 book.

A 2000 film directed by Giles Foster starred Aidan Quinn (as Miles Hendon), Alan Bates, Jonathan Hyde, Jonathan Timmins and Robert Timmins.

The 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 the Pauper Tom Canty, Rob Evan as Miles Hendon, Wayne Schroder 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 Guy LeMonnier as Father Andrew. The production closed August 31, 2003.

In 2007 there was a new movie about a modern-day Prince and the Pauper story starring identical twin actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse. In some of these versions, Prince Edward takes the precaution of carrying identification when he assumes Tom's role; an idea whose effectiveness varies depending on the versions.

In addition to cartoons like Mickey Mouse having direct translations of the story, multiple cartoons have parodied the storyline, including an episode of Johnny Bravo where Twain himself appears, beseeching cartoonists to "let this tired story die", alluding to the story's prevalence among cartoon adaptions.

The family film It Takes Two, starring twins Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, utilizes a loose translation of this story in which two girls, one who is quite wealthy and the other an orphan, who miraculously look like each other switch places in order to experience each others lives. The story develops into a composite of The Prince and the Pauper and the 1961 Disney film The Parent Trap.

One episode of Kappa Mikey titled Mikey and the Pauper involves Mikey Simon switching lives with Jomar, an urchin who looks exactly like Mikey in anime form.

In music, the Canadian geek rock band Moxy Früvous recorded the song King of Spain which is a modern retelling of the famed story, as the former King works at the Pizza Pizza.

On the Wishbone TV series, there was an episode titled The Prince and the Pooch.

A Hindi film version, titled Raja Aur Runk, was released in 1968, directed by Kotayya Pratyagatma. The film "Indianized" many of the episodes in the original story.

The 1993 comedy Dave told much the same story with a twist: after the President of the United States suffers a stroke, his body double, Dave, is pressed into service as 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.

It is mentioned in the BBC TV Comedy Series Blackadder the Third in the episode where the Prince Regent believes that the Duke of Wellington is after him. The Prince Regent swaps clothes with Blackadder (who is his butler) and says "This reminds of that story - The Prince and the Porpoise". Blackadder corrects him and says "Pauper. The Prince and the Pauper". As Blackadder the Third is set during the early 1800s, and the book was first published in 1881, this is an obvious historical anachronism. An episode of Phineas and Ferb, "Make Play" follows the same story line, with Candace switching place for Princess Baldegunde of Duselstein, with later Candace found that the royal life was boring.


  1. ^ Facsimile of the original 1st edition.

External links

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