What thoughtful reader hasn't experienced Shakespeare's Richard III and wondered about the accuracy of the Bard's portrayal? Thus did Josephine Tey, near the close of her authorial career, delve into some of the lost nooks and crannies of English history in an effort to recover "the real Richard." The well-known hurdle for all would-be Ricardians is, of course, the utter absence of source material contemporary to Richard's reign, and most of all anything that discusses the fate of the "princes in the Tower." All that is generally counted as "authoritative," it turns out, is the product of Tudor dynasty information factories. Tey, however, very likely had in her possession the writings of Sir Clements Markham, a late Victorian-era civil servant, whose careful revisionist argument is here unfolded in a lively, compelling narrative of incremental discovery. Prompted by a reproduction of a famous portrait of Richard, Tey's laid-up sleuth, with the help of an American researcher, marshalls from his bed an archival assault on the estimable Sir Thomas More, Henry (the VII) Tudor, and the entire phalanx of worthies who have reported, for the last half a millennium, that Richard was the demonic crookback murderer of Shakespeare's characterization. Happily for us, there's more (sic) to the story than the traditional record, and those not already sucked into the revisionist Ricardian argument may very well be converted. Tey's engaging "fiction" is not only a great boon to all Ricardians--who, with Richard III Societies on both sides of the pond, must surely win hundreds if not thousands of new converts yearly as a result of this 50-year-old work--but the perfect place to begin your own exploration of this great historical proto-conspiracy.
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