The Beggars Bible , Louise A. Vernon
(Herald Press, 1971), pb., 135 pp.
Following the Thomson biography of Wycliffe, we read this one by Louise Vernon, The Beggars’ Bible. Whereas the Thomson bio began as Wycliffe first went to Oxford, this book picks up well in to Wycliffe’s career.
This story centers around a young peasant boy, Arnold Hutton, who wants the chance to go to Oxford along with his noble born friend, Timothy. Arnold was given the opportunity to learn alongside his noble born friend due to the encouragement of Wycliffe and due to Wycliffe’s influence he eventually enters Oxford. This bio makes more of Wycliffe’s hot temper as an example of his humanness. There is also more mystery and intrigue as people plot against Wycliffe and Arnold and Timothy try to discover and foil the plots.
This book is overall more of a compelling story than the Thomson bio, though my boys enjoyed both. The mystery element in Vernon’s book probably was the big difference. However, Vernon’s (like too many children’s stories it seems) ends quite suddenly which was disappointing. I also thought the Thomson story provided more overall information about the life and times of Wycliffe. Thomson provides some clarity about what is fictional, but Vernon does not. Vernon though does provide a nice glossary of words form the era that are less common today.
Overall, the books complement each other well, and I would recommend using them both.