The Whipping Boy Background

The Whipping Boy Background

The Whipping Boy is the first novel by comedian and educator Sid Fleischman, and it is considered to be a modern classic of children's literature. Written in 1986, it tells the story of a plucky young boy named Jemmy who is forced to be the Whipping Boy for the spoiled Prince Horace, a child so obnoxious that the entire nation refers to him as Prince Brat. When Prince Brat orders Jemmy to run away alongside him, Jemmy sees this as the opportunity he has been looking for to get away from the castle and the Prince once and for all and return to his previous life catching rats in the sewers of London, just like his father before him. However things do not work out as planned and Jemmy returns to the castle a hero, with a much changed and greatly improved Prince Brat.

Although this is a fictional novel, the existence of a whipping boy is actually an historical fact. Because it was against the law to lay hands in the Royal children, an orphan would be brought in as whipping boy, and be physically punished whenever the Royal child did anything to warrant a spanking. Although Jemmy's situation is based on historical fact, the novel's adventurous plot is entirely fictional. This novel was a Newberry Medal Winner and established Fleischman as an entertaining and educational novelist whose books are popular with both teachers and the children reading them.

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