Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The novel is set in sixteenth-century England, during the reign of King Henry VIII. A cruel, autocratic ruler, Henry VII was intolerant of religious freedoms and imposed harsh and unjust punishments on his subjects. During this period, the rich lived in the lap of luxury, while the poor struggled to survive.
The novel's action takes place in London and the surrounding countryside, with the scene continually shifting between the splendor of the royal palace and the filth of the underworld. Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales and son of Henry VIII, lives in the palace at Westminster, while Tom Canty, a beggar and the son of the drunkard, John Canty, lives in a tiny and dirty pocket of London called Offal Court. Through a chance encounter, the two boys exchange roles and experience life as the other.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Tom Canty - the "pauper" of the novel, a poor lad who lives in poverty with his family. Tom's dream of becoming a prince comes true when he exchanges roles with Edward Tudor.
John Canty - the drunkard father of Tom. Canty is a cruel man who forces his son to beg.
Edward Tudor - the "prince" of the novel. Edward, the Prince of Wales and the son of Henry VIII, learns about the lives of his people when he exchanges roles with Tom.
Miles Hendon - the dispossessed heir to the Hendon estate and Edward's friend, guide, and protector in his adventures.
Henry VIII (the King of England) - an insensitive ruler, but an indulgent father.
Lord Hertford - the prince's uncle and advisor. Hertford helps the "mad" prince, Tom Canty, learn how to behave as a ruler.
Lord St. John - another advisor to the prince. Lord St. John brings the Great Seal from the chamber of the prince to Westminster Abbey on Coronation Day.
Humphrey Marlow - the prince's whipping boy. Marlow helps Tom "regain" his memory and becomes his friend and confidante.
Lady Elizabeth - Edward's sister and playmate.
Lady Jane Grey - Edward's cousin and Elizabeth's companion.
Hugh Hendon - Miles' evil brother. Hugh usurps Miles' place in the family and marries Lady Edith, Miles' true love. When Miles returns home after a long absence, Hugh pretends not to recognize him and has him imprisoned.
Blake Andrews - a faithful servant of the Hendons. Andrews visits Miles in prison and reveals to him the details of Hugh's treachery.
Grandmother Canty - the mean-spirited, drunken mother of John Canty. She treats Tom and his mother and sisters cruelly.
Mother Canty - Tom's kindly mother. She tries to protect Tom from his father's wrath.
Nan and Bet Canty - Tom's twin sisters.
Father Andrew - the benevolent priest of Offal Court who rescues Tom from his drunken father and introduces him to books.
The Ruffler - The chief of the vagabond gang to which John Canty belongs.
Hugo - a young member of the vagabond gang who torments Edward.
The Mad Hermit - a victim of Henry VIII's religious bigotry. The hermit gives shelter to Edward, but tries to kill him after discovering his identity.