When I heard the recent news that King Richard III’s bones had been discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, my first thought was of an unusual museum I stumbled into several years back while walking the medieval wall surrounding the old city of York. As a devoted fan of hole-in-the-wall museums, I could not have enjoyed the Richard III Museum more, due to the fact that, crammed as it is into one of four gatehouses in the York City Wall, the museum may be as close as one gets to being located in an actual hole in a wall. Browsing the exhibits, which detail the life of the last Plantagenet King of England and examine how his reputation has fared through the ages, I noticed several references to a novel called The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey, and when I returned home was happy to find that my local library had a copy.
In many ways, the book is as unusual as the museum. Published in 1951, The Daughter of Time chronicles another crime solved by mystery author Tey’s stock detective, Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant. However, this particular case—the murders of the Princes in the Tower and their attribution to Richard III—occurred hundreds of years earlier, and due to the fact that Inspector Grant is bedridden with a broken leg, most of the book’s action consists of historical research. It’s a page-turner, however, and I recommend it to anyone whose interest in Richard III was piqued by his recent rediscovery. It is also an insightful meditation on how history can be spun by victors and becomes mythologized over time. But what I most like about The Daughter of Time, and what I think it accomplishes better than any other book I know, is the way it depicts just how much fun historical research can be.
And since I went and got that librariany, why not throw in a bunch of links to Richard III-related materials here at the Library? Kicking it off with the most influential and oft-quoted, William Shakespeare’s play is available in print, and as unabridged audio and video performances. We have three movie adaptations of the play: a silent featuring Frederick Warde, Laurence Olivier’s classic 1955 portrayal, and Ian McKellen’s 1995 reimagining of the play during the World War II era. For those with a taste for more hard evidence, Alison Weir’s The Princes in the Tower is considered a readable and solid overview, as is Charles Ross’ biography of the prime suspect, although Tey’s Inspector Grant may have taken issue with him. And now that new evidence has come to light in the discovery and verification of Richard III’s remains, keep an eye on the catalog in the coming years to see what new verdicts may come in. - Dan Coleman, Collection Development