Illustrated by William Hatherell
A rousing tale of mistaken identity, The Prince and the Pauper reveals a side of Mark Twain seldom seen. The young prince suddenly becomes the pauper and the pauper, Tom, heir to the throne of England.
The story of two boys – one rich, one poor – exchanging places is so familiar that we forget that the original tale, The Prince and the Pauper, was Mark Twain's. His story, set in Tudor London, follows the fortunes of Tom Canty (resident of Offal Court, father a thief) and Prince Edward (son of Henry VIII, master of all he surveys). During a chance meeting they swap clothes, amused that they look so alike. But a harmless joke turns into a great error, and Edward, in Tom's rags, is thrown out of the palace, whilst Tom is led away to assume his royal duties.
‘When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.’
The boys struggle to adapt to their new lives whilst also trying to convince everyone of their true identities is enormously engaging, and the thrilling plot twists make this a great adventure. Twain brings alive the spectacle of Royal London – the pageants, the majestic palaces – and its converse – old London Bridge, the miserable life of the vagabond. He also wished his young readers to reflect a little: to consider that those who rule must do so with knowledge and understanding, and that we must all have care and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. This edition contains the original colour plates by William Hatherell (1855-1928), and features a gold-blocked cover with a design by Frances Button.
'Twain was enough of a genius to build his morality into his books, with humour and wit and – in the case of The Prince and the Pauper – wonderful plotting'
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, in the ‘almost invisible’ village of Florida, Missouri, and raised in Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the great Mississippi river. He worked as a printer’s apprentice, steamboat pilot and miner before beginning to write sketches and stories under the pen name ‘Mark Twain’. He married Olivia Langdon in 1870, and the couple moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Twain wrote his most famous novels. He published prolifically until his death and cultivated both a public persona – complete with white suit and cigar – and an immediately recognisable tone: deadpan, colloquial, unselfconscious. His later years were marked by the death of his wife and two of his children, and by disastrous investments, but he remained beloved by the reading public all over the world.
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