Richard III’s remains
I am impressed not only at the breaking news that Richard III’s remains have been identified, but also that the story even is currently the “top story” on my edition of Google News.
Shakespeare’s account is, of course, a literary masterpiece. I note that both the Arden Second Series edition of Richard III (for those who prefer the more traditional style of annotations) and the Arden Third Series edition of Richard III (for those who prefer the latest style of annotations) are available on sale at Amazon for $6.80. Although I have not yet read it, I’m sure the Norton Critical Edition of Richard III is great too (particularly since it includes major sections of Thomas More’s famous partisan account.) There is no shortage of great film versions of Shakespeare’s Richard III too – of course Olivier’s version is stunning (available in Criterion DVD, Criterion box set, and forthcoming on Criterion Blu-Ray) and the Ian McKellen version is also quite good. Al Pacino has a fun documentary that uses Richard III as a way to introduce Shakespeare to new audiences.
But I still remember my excitement as a kid when I read Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time – it opened new vistas in my understanding of the possibility of the mystery genre. I’m not alone in my assessment; Robert McCrum mentions that it was an adolescent favorite of his and calls Daughter of Time “possibly [Tey’s] masterpiece,” and Peter Hitchens wrote that Daughter of Time was “one of the most important books ever written.” If you are really determined, you can read the description at Wikipedia for more information about the book, but I recommend reading the book first, so you can fully enjoy its surprises and twists without spoilers.
If you want to read a scholarly biography of Richard III, I can recommend Paul Murray Kendall’s 1955 biography; although it is already dated and will become even more so after the monarch’s remains are fully studied. For general context on the Lancaster-York conflict (and the defeat of Richard III by Henry Tudor) there is a promising book (II have not yet read it, but it has received some favorable reviews and it is certainly mercifully short): David Grummitt’s A Short History of the Wars of the Roses.
Finish this part of history, and you’ll be ready to tackle Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy – but that will need to be a subject for a future post ….