illustration of the prince and the pauper standing back to back with a castle on the prince's side and a low building on the pauper's

The Prince and the Pauper

by Mark Twain

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Edward, prince of Wales and son of Henry VIII. When a ragged waif named Tom Canty invades the royal grounds, Edward, curious about life outside the confines of the palace, invites the boy to his quarters. They change clothes as a prank and discover that they are identical in appearance. When the prince appears in the courtyard dressed in Tom’s rags, guards mistake him for the intruding waif and throw him into the streets. Protesting time and again that he is the real prince of Wales, he is ridiculed and thought mad by skeptical London crowds. After many adventures and hardships that reveal to him the harsh lot of the common people, he appears as Tom Canty is about to be crowned king and proves that he himself is the rightful heir by disclosing the location of the Great Seal that his late father had entrusted to him.

King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII, his ailing father, who has entrusted to Edward the Great Seal.


Mary and


Elizabeth, daughters of the king, who think Tom is their brother.

Tom Canty

Tom Canty, who was born the same day as the prince of Wales and is his double in appearance. He trades places with Edward.

John Canty

John Canty, his father, who treats Tom and Edward cruelly. When he becomes king, Edward wants to hang Canty but can never locate him.

Miles Hendon

Miles Hendon, the disinherited son of a baronet. He befriends the homeless Edward.

Hugh Hendon

Hugh Hendon, his brother, who tricks Miles in order to marry Edith.


Edith, who loves Miles but is afraid Hugh will murder him if she identifies Miles.


Hugo, a thief who tries to teach Edward his tricks.

The Lord Protector

The Lord Protector, who identifies the real prince.

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Chapter Summaries