Well, it's that day again, the day when Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Last year I wrote a commemorative post so I thought that this year I would do something a little different. It seems such a long time since I first became interested in the life and times of Richard III. I'd seen Shakespeare's play at Nottingham Playhouse with Leonard Rossiter as Richard and somehow, although he was very villainous, just as he'd been in a Jean Plaidy novel I'd read as a teenager, it was played so 'tongue in cheek' and with a gentle. mocking humour that I just knew there was so much more to be learned about his role in British history. One of my working colleagues was an avid Richard supporter and was a member of the Richard III Society. She introduced me to a couple of books, the biography of Richard III by Paul Murray Kendal and a novel The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. I read them both and was hooked.
As you can see from the above photo I now have a whole shelf full of books on Richard III and other related issues. I joined the society in 1974 and only gave up the membership last year when finances became an issue and all memberships and subscriptions had to go.
If you want a light, easy and exciting introduction to Richard then read The Daughter of Time. The basis of the story is of a detective, hospitalised for a few weeks wanting to solve an unsolved crime - this one being did Richard commit all the crimes he's been accused of over the years. With the help of a young, gangly American student to do all the leg work, he weighs up the pros and cons and comes to his conclusions.
Other novels that depict Richard in a more favourable light are We Speak no Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman and The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman. You can tell from the book covers how old these are and it is such a long time since I read them but I can't bear to part with them.
Many books have been written about Richard III he is, after all, one of the most enigmatic and interesting characters in our history and certainly a man of mystery. He was also a man of his time, a time in which it was harder to survive than now with different values and morals to ours. I don't believe he was 100 percent innocent, he was born into a time of war and bloodshed and he had to fight for survival; but neither do I think he was as bad as he has been painted.
I don't think he was guilty of many of the crimes that have been foisted on him by Tudor propagandists - including one of my other heros - William Shakespeare, who, after all was a man of his own time and would sometimes have had to write to please his Tudor patrons.