The Prisoner of Zenda cover

photo credits: Anthony Hope - CC-PD-Mark

The Prisoner of Zenda


The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), by Anthony Hope, is an adventure novel in which the King of Ruritania is drugged on the eve of his coronation and thus is unable to attend the ceremony. Political forces within the realm are such that, in order for the king to retain the crown, his coronation must proceed. Fortuitously, an English gentleman on holiday in Ruritania who resembles the monarch is persuaded to act as his political decoy in an effort to save the unstable political situation of the interregnum. The name of the villain in The Prisoner of Zenda, Rupert of Hentzau, is the title of the sequel novel, Rupert of Hentzau (1898), published four years later and included in some editions of The Prisoner of Zenda. The popularity of the novels inspired the Ruritanian romance genre of literature, film, and theatre that features stories set in a fictional country, usually in Central Europe and Eastern Europe, such as Ruritania, the Central European realm that named the genre, Graustark from the novels by George Barr McCutcheon, and the neighbouring countries Syldavia and Borduria in the Tintin comics.
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original title: The Prisoner of Zenda
date of publication: 1894
genre: adventure novel, cloak and dagger novel, romance novel
follows: The Heart of Princess Osra
followed by: Rupert of Hentzau

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