The Bones of a Good Story: Richard III

I was ridiculously excited to hear about the discovery of the mortal remains of Richard of York this week. Those of you who have been with me for a while will recall that one of my Landing Eight titles featured an examination of the alleged crimes of the Yorkist king. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is one of my all time favourite books and was included on the blog as a re-read. As far as I know it is still in print, but if not, then this seems to be an ideal moment for a reprint of a title that is a great introduction to Richard III’s life and career.

I have found a couple of news snippets to illustrate the story of the research and discovery of the remains, including a fascinating piece about the facial reconstruction carried out:

As Phillipa Langley of the Richard III Society says, “It doesn’t look like the face of a tyrant. I’m sorry but it doesn’t. “He’s very handsome. It’s like you could just talk to him, have a conversation with him right now.”

The video below was taken from YouTube and produced by the University of Leicester:

After 500 years Richard III will once more formally be laid to rest. But what of his shady reputation? Perhaps it is time for another appraisal of his life and times; maybe he will yet be posthumously acquitted of his crimes. We will wait and see…

In the meantime, tomorrow  I welcome a visitor to The Landing, as debut author Sarah Moore Fitzgerald talks about the inspiration behind her time travelling YA novel Back to Blackbrick (published by Orion on the 7th February).

So enjoy catching with the news on Richard III and look out for another edition of #LandingAuthor here tomorrow…


Richard III in the news

News Update: Richard III in the news

Richard III

Portrait of Richard III



Anyone who has read my previous post (in June) on Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time will know of my longstanding interest in Richard III and the mystery of the princes in the tower. I am greatly intrigued by the recent news bulletins about the discovery of a skeleton that may perhaps be that of the king slain at the Battle of Bosworth.

One of the headlines on BBC Leicester’s website refers to the poor man as the ‘car park king’. I suppose he was hardly to know that the site of all that bloody death would end up under something as mundane as a supermarket car park. A story to keep an eye on anyway…

July 2013

More news from Leicester concerns a further dig to discover what else lies amongst the remains of Grey Friars Church. The link here is from a Mail Online report on the continuing site work.

A Centuries Old Mystery: Josephine Tey and Richard III

Cast your minds back to the post with the selection of the TBR Pile featured. I did say that I would be tackling them ‘in no particular order’ but the one I have been reading for the past few days was indeed at the top of the list. See photograph below for proof. The book in question is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (real name Elizabeth Mackintosh) about Richard III and the Princes in the Tower mystery.

This was I think always going to be my first choice (it was the first one that I picked out as well as being the first listed). The reason being as I am sure you have guessed by now that this is a re-read of an old favourite of mine. The book was originally published in 1951 (the last book to be published in Tey’s lifetime as she died in 1952) and issued by Penguin Books in 1954. My edition is a 1969 reprint bought second-hand and it certainly shows: foxed is not the word for it I am afraid. The pages are heavily discoloured and threatening to fall out; both the front and back covers are damaged. Maybe one day I’ll treat myself to a new edition (I am not sure if the title is still in print) or a fine second-hand copy.

pile of classic novels

Working from the top down…

Two things make this book an old favourite: my affection for Josephine Tey’s crime novels and my long fascination with Richard III and the mystery of the princes in the tower. This fascination was in fact inspired by reading Tey’s book as I am sure was the case with many other readers. Indeed the Richard III Society credit her with helping to rehabilitate the king’s reputation and restore him to his rightful place in history. Shakespeare has much to answer for in his creation of the wicked hunchbacked uncle with a rather long crime sheet.

Tey’s novel features her regular detective character Inspector Alan Grant who is laid up in hospital after an accident and is terribly, mind numbingly, bored and frustrated. When his fascination with faces (from the bench or the cells?) causes him to become interested in the mystery surrounding Richard Plantagenet, the scene is set for a modern-day investigation into a historical crime. With the help of an amiable American student as his able-bodied research assistant, Grant delves into the murky doings of the fifteenth century. He is surprised by what he comes up with during his quest and is by no means impressed with your average historian’s powers of reasoning.

On the strength of reading this investigation into the Yorkist monarch several years ago, I did some further digging around and discovered more novels and academic studies on the subject. I then read as much as I could find on Richard and the Wars of the Roses and his eventual demise fighting at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. I was keen enough on the topic to become a member of the Richard III Society though I eventually let my membership lapse. Having looked at the website recently I am tempted once more to become a Ricardian.

Meanwhile, back to the novel to follow-up a few leads! Are there any more Richard III enthusiasts out there? If so, let me know what you have been reading lately, I would love to know.

Just to finish with, here is a link to a fascinating site on Josephine Tey which is well worth a look if you are a fan of her writing.