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Adam of the Road
First edition
Author Elizabeth Janet Gray Vining
Illustrator Robert Lawson
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's Historical novel
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 317
ISBN 978-0140324648

Adam of the Road is a novel by Elizabeth Janet Gray Vining. Vining won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1943 from the book. Set in thirteenth-century England, the book follows the adventures of a young boy, Adam. After losing his spaniel and minstrel father, Adam embarks on a series of escapades throughout medieval England. The book is illustrated by Robert Lawson.


Adam is an eleven-year-old boy who wants to become like his father, Roger, and to do so he tries to be the best minstrel in England. At the beginning of the story, Adam and his friend Perkin are in St Alban's Abbey, where they go to an old lady's house to visit Adam's dog, Nick. They return to their home at the monastery and go to the roadside to find Roger is coming back from his long journey as a knight's minstrel. Roger tells Adam that he is going to London to follow in the knight's train. Adam is allowed to come, but he must hurry because the knight leaves the next day. While on the road, Adam meets Margery, the daughter of the knight, in a beautiful carriage. In the morning, following a night of feasting and partying, Roger tells Adam he lost his warhorse, Bayard, in a bet with another minstrel named Jankin.

One night, while Roger and Adam are sleeping, Jankin steals Nick. Adam worries that Jankin will mistreat Nick. When Adam and Roger discover Nick is gone, they chase Jankin across England. When Adam sees Jankin in a crowded marketplace, he pursues him and is separated from Roger. Now Adam is separated from both Roger and Nick and he has to find both alone. Adam makes friends along the way and with their help, finds Nick with Perkin. Roger, Adam and Nick are eventually reunited in Oxford. Adam is offered a place at an Oxford college, but decides to be a minstrel, like his father and with his father.


While in England researching her biography Penn, Vining explored the Chiltern Hills. There she "found the inspiration that she later tapped" for Adam of the Road. Originally intending to write a collection of minstrel stories, "she became so captivated by the thought of the minstrels themselves that she cast aside her first inclination all together", and Adam of the Road resulted instead.

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