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Tom Canty and Edward Tudor could have been identical twins. Their birthdays match, their faces match, but there the likeness stops. For Edward is a prince, heir to King Henry VIII, whilst Tom is a miserable pauper. But when fate intervenes, Edward is thrown out of the palace in rags, leaving ignorant Tom to play the part of a royal prince. Even those who have never read the novel will be familiar with Twain's classic tale of mistaken identity: at once an adventure story and a fantasy of timeless appeal.
Mark Twain's (1835-1910) idyllic childhood in Missouri on the Mississippi river is reflected in his best known books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. His great skills as a novelist, journalist and social observer assure him a central place in American literary history. Jerry Griswold is Professor of English & Comparative Literature at San Diego State University and is the author of The Classic American Children's Story.