A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889
1889 in literature
The year 1889 in literature involved some significant new books.-Events:*Theodore Roosevelt publishes the first of four volumes of The Winning of the West, with three more by 1896.-New books:*Gabriele D'Annunzio - Il piacere...

A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 by American humorist and writer Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

. The book was originally titled A Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Some early editions are titled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.

Introduction to the "stranger"

The novel explains the tale of Hank Morgan, a 19th-century resident of Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

 who, after a blow to the head, awakens to find himself inexplicably transported back in time to early medieval England
History of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England refers to the period of the history of that part of Britain, that became known as England, lasting from the end of Roman occupation and establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror...

 at the time of the legendary King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...


The story begins as a first person narrative
A narrator is, within any story , the fictional or non-fictional, personal or impersonal entity who tells the story to the audience. When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the viewpoint character. The narrator is one of three entities responsible for...

 in Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle in Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, England. It sits on a bend on the River Avon. The castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 within or adjacent to the Anglo-Saxon burh of Warwick. It was used as a fortification until the early 17th century,...

, where a man details his recollection of a tale told to by an "interested stranger" who is personified as a knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 through his simple language and familiarity with ancient armor.

After a brief tale of Sir Launcelot
Sir Lancelot du Lac is one of the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. He is the most trusted of King Arthur's knights and plays a part in many of Arthur's victories...

 of Camelot
Camelot is a castle and court associated with the legendary King Arthur. Absent in the early Arthurian material, Camelot first appeared in 12th-century French romances and eventually came to be described as the fantastic capital of Arthur's realm and a symbol of the Arthurian world...

 and his role in slaying two giants from the third-person narrative, the man named Hank Morgan enters and, after being given whiskey by the narrator, he is persuaded to reveal more of his story. Described through first-person narrative as a man familiar with the firearms and machinery trade, Hank is a man who had reached the level of superintendent due to his proficiency in firearms manufacturing, with two thousand subordinates. He describes the beginning of his tale by illustrating details of a disagreement with his subordinates, during which he sustained a head injury from a "crusher
Blunt trauma
In medical terminology, blunt trauma, blunt injury, non-penetrating trauma or blunt force trauma refers to a type of physical trauma caused to a body part, either by impact, injury or physical attack; the latter usually being referred to as blunt force trauma...

" to the head caused by a man named "Hercules" using a crowbar. After passing out from the blow, Hank describes waking up underneath an oak tree in a rural area of Camelot
Camelot is a castle and court associated with the legendary King Arthur. Absent in the early Arthurian material, Camelot first appeared in 12th-century French romances and eventually came to be described as the fantastic capital of Arthur's realm and a symbol of the Arthurian world...

 where a knight questions him for trepassing upon his land, and after establishing rapport, leads him towards Camelot castle. Upon recognizing that he has time-traveled to the sixth century, Hank realizes that he is the de facto smartest person on Earth, and with his knowledge he should soon be running things.

Hank is ridiculed at King Arthur's court for his strange appearance and dress and is sentenced by King Arthur's court (particularly the magician Merlin
Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in the Arthurian legend. The standard depiction of the character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written c. 1136, and is based on an amalgamation of previous historical and legendary figures...

) to burn at the stake on 22 June. By a stroke of luck, the date of the burning coincides with a historical solar eclipse
Solar eclipse
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. At least...

 in the year 528, of which Hank had learned in his earlier life. While in prison, he sends the boy Clarence to inform the King that he will blot out the sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 if he is executed. Hank believes the current date to be 20 June; however, it is actually the 21st when he makes his threat, the day that the eclipse will occur at 12:03 p.m. When the King decides to burn him, the eclipse catches Hank by surprise. But he quickly uses it to his advantage and convinces the people that he caused the eclipse. He makes a bargain with the King, is released, and becomes the second most powerful person in the kingdom.

Hank is given the position of principal minister to the King and is treated by all with the utmost fear and awe. His celebrity brings him to be known by a new title, elected by the people — "The Boss". However, he proclaims that his only income will be taken as a percentage of any increase in the kingdom's gross national product that he succeeds in creating for the state as Arthur's chief minister, which King Arthur sees as fair. Notwithstanding, the people fear him and he has his new title, Hank is still seen as somewhat of an equal. The people might grovel to him if he were a knight or some form of nobility, but without that, Hank faces problems from time to time, as he refuses to seek to join such ranks.

The Takeover

After being made "the Boss", Hank learns about medieval practices and superstitions. Having superior knowledge, he is able to outdo the alleged sorcerers and miracle-working church officials. At one point, soon after the eclipse, people began gathering, hoping to see Hank perform another miracle. Merlin, jealous of Hank having replaced him both as the king's principal adviser and as the most powerful sorcerer of the realm, begins spreading rumors that Hank is a fake and cannot supply another miracle. Hank secretly manufactures gunpowder and a lightning rod, plants explosive charges in Merlin's tower, then places the lightning rod at the top and runs a wire to the explosive charges. He then announces (during a period when storms are frequent) that he will soon call down fire from heaven and destroy Merlin's tower, then challenges Merlin to use his sorcery to prevent it. Of course, Merlin's "incantations" fail utterly to prevent lightning striking the rod, triggering the explosive charges and leveling the tower, further diminishing Merlin's reputation.

Hank Morgan, in his position as King's Minister, uses his authority and his modern knowledge to industrialize the country behind the back of the rest of the ruling class. His assistant is Clarence, a young boy he meets at court, whom he educates and gradually lets in on most of his secrets, and eventually comes to rely on heavily. Hank sets up secret schools, which teach modern ideas and modern English, thereby removing the new generation from medieval concepts, and secretly constructs hidden factories, which produce modern tools and weapons. He carefully selects the individuals he allows to enter his factories and schools, seeking to select only the most promising and least indoctrinated in medieval ideas, favoring selection of the young and malleable whenever possible.

As Hank gradually adjusts to his new situation, he begins to attend medieval tournaments. A misunderstanding causes Sir Sagramore to challenge Hank to a duel to the death; the combat will take place when Sagramore returns from his quest for the Holy Grail
Holy Grail
The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers...

. Hank accepts, and spends the next few years building up 19th-century infrastructure behind the nobility's back. At this point, he undertakes an adventure with a wandering girl named Sandy to save her royal mistresses being held captive by ogres. On the way, Hank struggles with the inconveniences of medieval plate armor, and also encounters Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay , alternatively known as Morgane, Morgaine, Morgana and other variants, is a powerful sorceress in the Arthurian legend. Early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or magician...

. The "princesses", "ogres" and "castles" are all revealed to be actually pigs owned by peasant swineherds, although to Sandy they still appear as royalty. Hank buys the pigs from the peasants and the two leave.

On the way back to Camelot, they find a travelling group of pilgrims headed for the Valley of Holiness. Another group of pilgrims, however, comes from that direction bearing the news that the valley's famous fountain has run dry. According to legend, long ago the fountain had gone dry before as soon as the monks of the valley's monastery built a bath with it; the bath was destroyed and the water instantly returned, but this time it has stopped with no clear cause. Hank is begged to restore the fountain, although Merlin is already trying. When Merlin fails, he claims that the fountain has been corrupted by a demon, and that it will never flow again. Hank, in order to look good, agrees that a demon has corrupted the fountain but also claims to be able to banish it; in reality, the "fountain" is simply leaking. He procures assistants from Camelot trained by himself, who bring along a pump and fireworks for special effects. They repair the fountain and Hank begins the "banishment" of the demon. At the end of several long German language phrases, he says "BGWJJILLIGKKK", which is simply a load of gibberish, but Merlin agrees with Hank that this is the name of the demon. The fountain restored, Hank goes on to debunk another magician who claims to be able to tell what any person in the world is doing, including King Arthur. However, Hank knows that the King is riding out to see the restored fountain, and not "resting from the chase" as the "false prophet" had foretold to the people. Hank correctly states that the King will arrive in the valley.

Hank has an idea to travel amongst the poor disguised as a peasant to find out how they truly live. King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

 joins him, but has extreme difficulty in acting like a peasant convincingly. Although Arthur is somewhat disillusioned about the national standard of life after hearing the story of a mother infected with smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, he still ends up getting Hank and himself hunted down by the members of a village after making several extremely erroneous remarks about agriculture. Although they are saved by a nobleman's entourage, the same nobleman later arrests them and sells them into slavery.

Hank steals a piece of metal in London and uses it to create a makeshift lockpick
Lock picking
Lock picking is the art of unlocking a lock by analyzing and manipulating the components of the lock device, without the original key. Although lock picking can be associated with criminal intent, it is an essential skill for a locksmith...

. His plan is to free himself, the king, beat up their slave driver, and return to Camelot. However, before he can free the king, a man enters their quarters in the dark. Mistaking him for the slave driver, Hank rushes after him alone and starts a fight with him. They are both arrested. Although Hank lies his way out, in his absence the real slave driver has discovered Hank's escape. Since Hank was the most valuable slave — he was due to be sold the next day — the man becomes enraged and begins beating his other slaves, who fight back and kill him. All the slaves, including the king, will be hanged as soon as the missing one — Hank — is found. Hank is captured, but he and Arthur are rescued by a party of knights led by Lancelot
Sir Lancelot du Lac is one of the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. He is the most trusted of King Arthur's knights and plays a part in many of Arthur's victories...

, riding bicycles. Following this, the king becomes extremely bitter against slavery and vows to abolish it when they get free, much to Hank's delight.

Sagramore returns from his quest, and fights Hank. Hank defeats him and seven others, including Galahad and Lancelot, using a lasso. When Merlin steals Hank's lasso, Sagramore returns to challenge him again. This time, Hank kills him with a revolver. He proceeds to challenge the knights of England to attack him en masse, which they do. After he kills nine more knights with his revolvers, the rest break and flee. The next day, Hank reveals his 19th century infrastructure to the country. With this fact he was called a wizard as he told Clarence to do so as well.

The Interdict

Three years later, Hank has married Sandy and they have a baby. While asleep and dreaming, Hank says, "Hello-Central" — a reference to calling a 19th century telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

 operator — and Sandy believes that the mystic phrase is a good name for the baby, and names it accordingly. However, the baby falls critically ill and Hank's doctors advise him to take his family overseas while the baby recovers. In reality, it is a ploy by the Catholic Church to get Hank out of the country, leaving the country without effective leadership. During the weeks that Hank is absent, Arthur discovers Guinevere's infidelity with Lancelot. This causes a war between Lancelot and Arthur, who is eventually killed by Sir Mordred.

The church then publishes "The Interdict" which causes all people to break away from Hank and revolt. Hank meets with his good friend Clarence who informs him of the war thus far. As time goes on, Clarence gathers 52 young cadets, from ages 14 to 17, who are to fight against all of England. Hank's band fortifies itself in Merlin's Cave with a minefield, electric wire and Gatling guns. The Catholic Church sends an army of 30,000 knights to attack them, but the knights are slaughtered.

However, Hank's men are now trapped in the cave by a wall of dead bodies. Hank attempts to go offer aid to any wounded, but is stabbed by the first man that they encounter. He is not seriously injured, but is bedridden. Disease begins to set in amongst them. One night, Clarence finds Merlin weaving a spell over Hank, proclaiming that he shall sleep for 1,300 years. Merlin begins laughing deliriously, but ends up electrocuting himself on one of the electric wires. Clarence and the others all apparently die from disease in the cave.

More than a millennium later, the narrator finishes the manuscript and finds Hank on his deathbed having a dream about Sandy. He attempts to make one last "effect", but dies before he can finish it.


While the book pokes fun at contemporary society, the main thrust is a satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 of romanticized ideas of chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

, and of the idealization of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 common in the novels of Sir Walter Scott and other 19th century literature. Twain had a particular dislike for Scott, blaming his kind of romanticism of battle for the southern states
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 deciding to fight the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. He writes in Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi is a memoir by Mark Twain, of his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War, and also a travel book, recounting his trip along the Mississippi many years after the War....

For example, the book portrays the medieval people as being very gullible, as when Merlin makes a "veil of invisibility", which according to him will make the wearer imperceptible to his enemies, though friends can still see him. The knight Sir Sagramor
Sir Sagramore of Hungary is a Knight of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. His characterization varies from story to story, though he is surprisingly prolific; he appears in a number of early stories, such as Chrétien de Troyes' works, and he turns up in all the cyclical versions...

 wears it to fight Hank, who pretends he cannot see Sagramor for effect to the audience.

It is possible to see the book as an important transitional work for Twain, in that earlier, sunnier passages recall the frontier humor of his tall tales like The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is an 1865 short story by Mark Twain, his first great success as a writer, bringing him national attention. The story has also been published as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" and "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"...

, while the corrosive view of human behavior in the apocalyptic latter chapters is more akin to darker, later Twain works like The Mysterious Stranger
The Mysterious Stranger
The Mysterious Stranger is the final novel attempted by the American author Mark Twain. It was worked on periodically from roughly 1890 up until 1910...

 and Letters from the Earth
Letters from the Earth
Letters from the Earth is one of Mark Twain's posthumously published works. The essays were written during a difficult time in Twain's life; he was deep in debt and had lost his wife and one of his daughters...


Time travel as a science fiction subgenre

While Connecticut Yankee is sometimes credited as the foundational work in the time travel subgenre of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

, Twain's novel had several important immediate predecessors. Among them are H.G. Wells's story "The Chronic Argonauts
The Chronic Argonauts
"The Chronic Argonauts" is a short story written by H. G. Wells. First published by the Royal College of Science in 1888, it is the first well-developed use of a machine constructed to travel through time in science fiction, as it predates Wells's more famous time traveling novel, The Time...

" (1888), which was a precursor to The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

 (1895). Also published the year before Connecticut Yankee was Edward Bellamy
Edward Bellamy
Edward Bellamy was an American author and socialist, most famous for his utopian novel, Looking Backward, set in the year 2000. He was a very influential writer during the Gilded Age of United States history.-Early life:...

's wildly popular Looking Backward
Looking Backward
Looking Backward: 2000-1887 is a utopian science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a lawyer and writer from western Massachusetts; it was first published in 1887...

 (1888), in which the protagonist is put into a hypnosis-induced sleep and wakes up in the year 2000. Yet another American novel that could have served as a more direct inspiration to Twain was The Fortunate Island (1882) by Charles Heber Clark
Charles Heber Clark
Charles Heber Clark , was an American novelist and humorist. Most of his work was written under the pseudonym Max Adeler. Earlier, he used the "John Quill" pseudonym...

. In this novel, a technically proficient American is shipwrecked on an island that broke off from Britain during Arthurian times, and never developed any further.

Twain may have created a specific subgenre in which the time traveler attempts to introduce modern technology into a past society. Subsequent writers have tended to examine further the issues this raises, usually drawing the historical setting more realistically than Twain. A well-known example is L. Sprague de Camp
L. Sprague de Camp
Lyon Sprague de Camp was an American author of science fiction and fantasy books, non-fiction and biography. In a writing career spanning 60 years, he wrote over 100 books, including novels and notable works of non-fiction, including biographies of other important fantasy authors...

's Lest Darkness Fall
Lest Darkness Fall
Lest Darkness Fall is an alternate history science fiction novel written in 1939 by author L. Sprague de Camp. The book is often considered one of the best examples of the alternate history genre; it is certainly one of the most influential...

 in which an American archaeologist of the 1930s arrives at Ostrogothic Italy and manages to prevent the Dark Ages by introducing printing and other modern inventions. Leo Frankowski
Leo Frankowski
Leo Frankowski was an American writer of science fiction novels. He lived in Russia for four years with his now ex-wife and adopted teenage daughter, but...

 wrote the Conrad Stargard
Conrad Stargard
Conrad Stargard is the protagonist and title character in a series of time travel novels written by Leo Frankowski. In them, a Polish engineer named Conrad Schwartz is sent back in time to the 13th century where he has to establish himself and cope with various crises including the eventual...

 series in which a 20th century Pole
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 arrives in 13th century Poland and by rapid industrialization manages to defeat the Mongol invasion and annihilate the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...


Poul Anderson
Poul Anderson
Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories...

 presented an antithesis in his story The Man Who Came Early
The Man Who Came Early
"The Man Who Came Early" is a science fiction short story by Danish-American author Poul Anderson. Similar in some respects to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the story is in fact its antithesis; Anderson sharply differs from Twain in his treatment of the "primitive"...

, in which a modern American who finds himself in Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 fails to introduce modern technologies despite being an intelligent, competent, well-trained engineer, and finds that in a 10th century environment 10th century technologies work best. Ford Madox Ford
Ford Madox Ford
Ford Madox Ford was an English novelist, poet, critic and editor whose journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, were instrumental in the development of early 20th-century English literature...

 presented another antithesis in his Ladies Whose Bright Eyes
Ladies Whose Bright Eyes
Ladies Whose Bright Eyes is a novel by Ford Madox Ford. It was written in 1911 and extensively revised in 1935 and published under Ford's common pseudonym Daniel Chaucer....

, in which the time traveler, in spite of being a trained engineer, lacks the technical know-how to develop modern technology from scratch in medieval society. After some half-hearted attempts he "goes native" and makes a credible effort at becoming a knight.

S. M. Stirling
S. M. Stirling
Stephen Michael Stirling is a French-born Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author. Stirling is probably best known for his Draka series of alternate history novels and the more recent time travel/alternate history Nantucket series and Emberverse series.-Personal:Stirling was born on...

 introduced a new twist in the Nantucket, books and Eric Flint
Eric Flint
Eric Flint is an American author, editor, and e-publisher. The majority of his main works are alternate history science fiction, but he also writes humorous fantasy adventures.- Career :...

 in the 1632 series
1632 series
The 1632 series, also known as the 1632-verse or Ring of Fire series, is an alternate history book series and sub-series created, primarily co-written, and coordinated by Eric Flint and published by Baen Books...

, in which it is not a single modern individual but a whole modern community (American in both cases) transported into the past—to the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and Germany of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 respectively. This premise increases the plausibility of their ability to influence the past.

Some maintain this entire subgenre shares with Twain's original book a mindset that regards Western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 as inherently superior to other cultures, past and present. Specifically, some assert that Stirling's "Nantuckars" are depicted as embarking on colonial
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 empire-building in the Bronze Age. In Boris and Arkady Strugatsky's Monday Begins on Saturday
Monday Begins on Saturday
Monday Begins on Saturday is a 1964 science fiction / science fantasy novel by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. Set in a fictional town in northern Russia, where highly classified research in magic occurs, the novel is a satire of Soviet scientific research institutes, complete with an inept...

, Merlin is transported to the Soviet Union of the 1960s, where he explicitly refers to Twain's novel, declaring its protagonist an early exponent of American imperialism. He boasts to his Soviet hosts that he already opposed that "imperialist". (However, this reference—like much of the Strugatsky novel in general—is clearly satire).

In Timeline
Timeline (novel)
Timeline is a science fiction novel by Michael Crichton that was published in November 1999. It tells the story of a group of history students who travel to 14th Century France to rescue their professor...

, author Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
John Michael Crichton , best known as Michael Crichton, was an American best-selling author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted...

 explored the practicality of time travel through theoretical quantum physics. His characters went back in time knowingly and attempted to not be anachronistic in their ways, though they use grenades and teach the locals how to use special chemistry techniques.

In "That Hideous Strength
That Hideous Strength
That Hideous Strength is a 1945 novel by C. S. Lewis, the final book in Lewis's theological science fiction Space Trilogy. The events of this novel follow those of Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra and once again feature the philologist Elwin Ransom...

", the final novel in the space trilogy by C.S. Lewis, Merlin is brought forward into 1940's England, woken from his long sleep in his cave prison. In disguise, he assists the protagonists in their struggle against the imperious N.I.C.E.

Film, television and theatrical adaptations

Since the beginning of the 20th century, this famous story has been adapted many times to stage, feature-length motion pictures, and animated cartoon
Animated cartoon
An animated cartoon is a short, hand-drawn film for the cinema, television or computer screen, featuring some kind of story or plot...

s. The earliest film version was Fox
20th Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation — also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox — is one of the six major American film studios...

's 1921 silent version
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1921 film)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a 1921 American silent film adaptation of Mark Twain's 1889 novel of the same name. The film was produced by the Fox Film Corporation and directed by Emmet J. Flynn based on a screenplay by Bernard McConville...

. In 1927, the novel was adapted into the musical
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 A Connecticut Yankee, by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart were an American songwriting partnership of composer Richard Rodgers and the lyricist Lorenz Hart...

. A 1931 film, also called A Connecticut Yankee, starred Will Rogers
Will Rogers
William "Will" Penn Adair Rogers was an American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer, film actor, and one of the world's best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s....

. A 1949 musical film
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949 film)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a 1949 musical comedy film adaptation of the Mark Twain novel of the same name that was distributed by Paramount Pictures.-Plot:...

 featured Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

 and Rhonda Fleming
Rhonda Fleming
Rhonda Fleming , is an American film and television actress.She acted in more than 40 films, mostly in the 1940s and 1950s, and became renowned as one of the most beautiful and glamorous actresses of her day...

, with music by Jimmy Van Heusen and Victor Young
Victor Young
Victor Young was an American composer, arranger, violinist and conductor. He was born in Chicago.-Biography:...

. In 1970, the book was adapted into a 74-minute animated TV special directed by Zoran Janjic with Orson Bean
Orson Bean
Orson Bean is an American film, television, and Broadway actor. He appeared frequently on televised game shows in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including being a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth....

 as the voice of the title character. More recently it was adapted into a 1989 TV movie by Paul Zindel
Paul Zindel
Paul Zindel Jr. was an American playwright, author, and educator.-Early years:Zindel was born in Tottenville, Staten Island, New York to Paul Zindel,Sr., a policeman, and Beatrice Frank, a nurse; his sister, Betty Hagen, was a year and a half older than he. Paul Zindel, Sr...

 which starred Keshia Knight Pulliam
Keshia Knight Pulliam
Keshia Knight Pulliam is an American actress. She is most recognized for her childhood role as Rudy Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. Currently, she appears as reformed con artist Miranda Lucas-Payne on the TBS comedy-drama Tyler Perry's House of Payne.-Personal life:Keshia...

 of The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show is an American television situation comedy starring Bill Cosby, which aired for eight seasons on NBC from September 20, 1984 until April 30, 1992...


It has also inspired many variations and parodies, such as the 1979 Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny is a animated character created in 1938 at Leon Schlesinger Productions, later Warner Bros. Cartoons. Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray rabbit and is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality and his portrayal as a trickster. He has primarily appeared in animated cartoons, most...

 special, A Connecticut Rabbit In King Arthur's Court and Disney's Unidentified Flying Oddball
Unidentified Flying Oddball
Unidentified Flying Oddball, also known as The Spaceman and King Arthur, is Disney’s film adaptation of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. It was directed by Russ Mayberry...

. In 1995, Walt Disney Studios
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 adapted the book into the feature film A Kid in King Arthur's Court
A Kid in King Arthur's Court
A Kid in King Arthur's Court is a 1995 film directed by Michael Gottlieb. It is based on the famous Mark Twain novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, transplanted into the twentieth century....

. In 1998, Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg is an American comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, author and talk show host.Goldberg made her film debut in The Color Purple playing Celie, a mistreated black woman in the Deep South. She received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won...

 starred as the protagonist in A Knight in Camelot
A Knight in Camelot
A Knight in Camelot is a 1998 TV movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Michael York. It was directed by Roger Young, distributed by Disney and is loosely based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.-Plot:...

, as a physicist who accidentally goes back in time during an experiment gone bad. She gains the people's respect after predicting a solar eclipse
Solar eclipse
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. At least...

 by checking a computer that went back in time with her, along with other "convenient" things in her backpack. In 2001, actor and comedian Martin Lawrence
Martin Lawrence
Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence is an American actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and stand up comedian. He came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywood career as a leading actor, most notably the films Bad Boys, Blue Streak, and Big Momma's House...

 portrayed Jamal/Skywalker, an American miniature golf park employee who goes back in time to 14th century England in the film Black Knight
Black Knight (film)
Black Knight is a 2001 American comedy film starring Martin Lawrence. The film was directed by Gil Junger, whose experience was primarily with television sitcoms...

. Additionally, Twain's novel was extrapolated by Sam Raimi in the third installment of the Evil Dead film trilogy, Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness, also known as Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness or simply Evil Dead III, is a 1992 horror comedy fantasy action film directed by Sam Raimi. It is the third and final installment in The Evil Dead trilogy. The film was written by Raimi and his brother Ivan, produced by Robert Tapert,...

. In the film, the protagonist, Ash, is hurled into a medieval land where he uses his contemporary knowledge to battle primitive and sorcerous foes.

In 1988, the Soviet variation called New adventures of a Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Fantasy over Mark Twain's theme
New Adventures of a Yankee in King Arthur's Court
New Adventures of a Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Fantasy over Mark Twain's theme is a 1988 Soviet adventure film directed by Viktor Hres and based on American author Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court...


A 1978 episode of Once Upon a Classic
Once Upon a Classic
Once Upon a Classic was an American television program hosted by Bill Bixby, at the time of The Incredible Hulk fame. The program aired on PBS from 1976 to 1980 as a production of WQED in Pittsburgh....

 was an adaptation.

The BBC TV series Life on Mars
Life on Mars (TV series)
Life on Mars is a British television series broadcast on BBC One between January 2006 and April 2007. The series combines elements of science fiction and police procedural....

 has a similar premise. In the series, the lead character, Sam Tyler
Sam Tyler
DCI/DI Sam Tyler is a fictional character in BBC One's science fiction/police procedural drama, Life on Mars.In the original British version of Life on Mars, Tyler is played by John Simm and in the American version he is played by Jason O'Mara....

 played by actor John Simm
John Simm
John Simm is an English stage and screen actor. In recent years he is best known for his roles as Sam Tyler in the detective drama Life on Mars and as The Master in the revival of the science fiction series Doctor Who, but he has also starred in many highly acclaimed award-winning television...

 wakes up from a 2006 car accident to find himself in 1973. The series explores Sam's attempts to adjust to life in the past and his quest to discover why he is there. The sixth episode of the first season features a character who refers to feeling like "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", a sentiment with which Sam sympathizes. See also the sequel, Ashes to Ashes
Ashes to Ashes (TV series)
Ashes to Ashes is a British science fiction and police procedural drama television series, serving as the sequel to Life on Mars.The series began airing on BBC One in February 2008. A second series began broadcasting in April 2009...


The TV series The Transformers
The Transformers (TV series)
The Transformers is an animated television series depicting a war among giant robots who could transform into vehicles, other objects and animal-like forms. Written and recorded in America, the series was animated in Japan and South Korea...

 had a second season episode, "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court", an episode that, as the title suggests, had a group of Autobots and Decepticons sent back to medieval times.

Another one would be TV series Macgyver
MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series created by Lee David Zlotoff. Henry Winkler and John Rich were the executive producers. The show ran for seven seasons on ABC in the United States and various other networks abroad from 1985 to 1992. The series was filmed in Los Angeles...

, in which Macgyver was knocked unconscious and woke up in the 7th century in a two part episode "Good Knight Macgyver". An interesting adaptation of Macgyver vs Merlin. When he came back to his consciousness in the present real world at the end, despite the implication that he had had a dream, many of those medieval characters he met were very familiar around him in the present.

Also, the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series, created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of "Bikini Bottom"...

 had a special episode called "Dunces and Dragons", in which SpongeBob and Patrick are knocked out in a jousting accident and transported back to medieval times.

The book is referenced in the title of An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 British-American horror film, written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dunne....

 and is present throughout the movie, particularly when Alex reads "A Word of Explanation" to David in the hospital room, and just before David's transformation in Alex's flat.

Radio adaptations

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was adapted as an hour-long radio play on the October 5, 1947 broadcast of the Ford Theatre
Ford Theatre
Ford Theatre was a radio and television anthology series broadcast in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. At various times the television series appeared on all three major television networks, while the radio version was broadcast on two separate networks and on two separate coasts...

, starring Karl Swenson
Karl Swenson
Karl Swenson was an American theatre, radio, film, and television actor.-Biography:Born in Brooklyn, New York of Swedish parentage, Swenson made several appearances with Pierre-Luc Michaud on Broadway in the 1930s and 40s, including the title role in Arthur Miller's first production, The Man Who...

. The CBS Radio Mystery Theater produced an hour-long version on January 8, 1976.

Musical adaptations and references

  • The League of Crafty Guitarists' albums A Show of Hands and Intergalactic Boogie Express feature a song called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
  • In On Golden Pond (play), when his dad's girlfriend's father, Norman, asks him if he has a book with him before the two go fishing, Billy Ray hastily pulls a copy of A Connecticut Yankee off a shelf in the living room and shows it to Norman.

See also

  • List of films based on Arthurian legend
  • A Dream of John Ball
    A Dream of John Ball
    A Dream of John Ball is a novel by English author William Morris about the English peasants' revolt of 1381 and the rebel John Ball...

     (1889) by William Morris
    William Morris
    William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

External links

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