Pied Piper (novel)

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First edition cover (William Morrow)

Pied Piper is a novel by Nevil Shute, first published in 1942. The title is a reference to the traditional German folk tale, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin".

Plot summary[edit]

The story concerns an elderly Englishman, John Sidney Howard, who goes on a fishing holiday in France after the outbreak of the Second World War, but before the fall of France. Entrusted with the care of two English children, and overtaken by events, he attempts to return to England and safety.

His journey is hampered by the unexpected speed of the Nazi invasion of France, and by the fact that he eventually finds himself entrusted with the custody of seven young children. Eventually, he and the children are stranded in Nazi-occupied France. As an Englishman, he is an enemy to the occupying forces.

While waiting to escape France on a fishing boat, he and his charges are discovered by the Germans. Howard is accused of spying and threatened with death. In a final plot twist, the German commandant secretly allows them to sail to England on the condition that they take his niece with them and send her to her uncle in the USA. His niece is apparently orphaned and had a Jewish mother.

The hazardous boat trip from France to England is successful and all seven children are eventually sent to safety in the USA until the War is over. The tale is told by an acquaintance Howard meets in a London club.


The story was filmed in 1942 and again in 1990 as a CBS made-for-television film, Crossing to Freedom. Howard was played in the 1942 film by Monty Woolley and by Peter O'Toole in the 1990 film[citation needed].

External links[edit]