"There is something curious about this joyful novel," writes Jerry Griswold in his introduction. "Everyone seems to know its story... but few seem actually to have read the book." First published in 1881, The Prince and the Pauper is the story of a poor boy, Tom Canty, who exchanges clothes and identities with Edward Tudor, Prince of England. It is at once an adventure story, a fantasy of timeless appeal, and an intriguing example of the author's abiding interest in separating the true from the false, the genuine from the imposter. With characteristic humor and color, Twain brings to life the 16th-century royal court, the crowded, boisterous streets inhabited by London's hoi polloi, and the behaviour of two young boys who are in many ways smarter than their elders. In spinning his tale, he draws on themes from ancient mythology, the Bible, familiar fairy tales, and popular children's literature of the period.