Before starting The Prince and the Pauper Summary, let’s discuss the author, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), who was born in November 30, 1835 and died April 21, 1910. The novel was first published in 1881.
The Prince and the Pauper Summary
This is a story about two boys, Tom and Edward, who live in London. Tom is born into a poor family where he is beaten by his father and grandmother, while Edward is the Prince of Wales and successor to King Henry. One day, Tom wanders near the palace and Edward invites him in. The two boys decide to switch places and after they change clothes, Edward, as Tom, is thrown out of the palace, while Tom, as Edward, stays in the palace.
Both boys have a hard time adjusting to their new lives, as Edward realizes that he has no power and gets beaten and Tom realizes that he’s trapped in being a prince and that everyone thinks he lost his mind. Tom awkwardly makes his way through a royal meal and encounter with the king, who is looking for the Great Seal. Edward is dragged to Tom’s home by Tom’s father, where Edward sleeps for the night. The following day, Tom’s father runs into town to escape persecution for beating a man and Edward runs away in the street crowd.
Tom attends a big dinner in the evening with dancing and food. However, King Henry suddenly dies and Tom is made king, proclaiming that he will not rule in blood. Edward tries to enter the dinner, but is turned away by the crowd. A man named Miles Hendon befriends Edward and takes him back to his place to rest. After Miles and Edward share their stories, Miles plays along with Edward that he is, in fact, the king and serves him while he eats.
Edward then knights Miles and offers him anything he wish, which Miles requests that he and his heirs always be under the protection of the king. Tom, as king, befriends a whipping boy and frees three people who are wrongfully accused of crimes. Edward wanders into the company of vagabonds for the night, where they share stories of their past and when Edward commands respect because he is the king, the group of men mock him.
The group of men and Edward enter a nearby town to cause trouble, and Edward runs away when one of the men gets caught stealing. Edward ends up sleeping in a barn and awakes the next day to the hospitality of a woman and her daughters. However, Tom’s father appears at the farm and Edward runs away. Edward meets a hermit who claims to be an archangel and stays with him for the night. However, when Edward mentions that his father was the late King Henry, the hermit ties him up and sharpens his knife. Just as the hermit is about kill Edward, Miles knocks on the door looking for Edward.
The hermit leads Miles away in the woods, but Tom’s father Edward and takes him back to the gang. The gang goes back into town to steal and Edward is setup by one of the gang-members, who leaves him behinds to get arrested. Edward is brought in front of a judge, but Miles defends him in court. On the way to jail, Miles convinces the guard to let Edward go and Miles and Edward travel to Miles’ old home where his family and large mansion await.
However, when Miles arrives at the estate, he is accused of being an imposter because the family believes that Miles died. Because no one seems to know Miles, Miles and Edward are taken to jail, where Edward gets to know the other prisoners. In jail, an old man recognizes Miles, and Miles sacrifices himself to take a whipping for Edward. When Miles and Edward are eventually released, they travel to Westminster to confront Tom at the royal coronation ceremony.
Tom enjoys the coronation as he is adored by the people, but as the ceremony continues, he becomes bored and saddened that he’s not really the king. Edward then appears and claims to be the real king, but everyone thinks he’s lying. Tom then tells the officials that it’s true and the only way to prove that it’s true and the only way to prove it is for Edward to tell them where the Great Deal is located. At first Edward can’t remember, but he eventually remembers and is made king. In the end, King Edward protects Tom and Miles and those he met in the jails, ruling for only a short time until his death.