Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time & Dickon

The Daughter Of Time - Josephine Tey Dickon - Gordon Daviot, Josephine Tey

This weekend’s “let’s-forget-the-pandemic” buddy read wasn’t the first time I read Josephine Tey’s setting-the-record-straight-about-Richard III novel, The Daughter of Time, but it was the first time that I did so by reading it together with her play on the same subject (written under the name Gordon Daviot), Dickon, and that combined reading changed my perspective on the novel yet again: not significantly, but in what I see as Tey’s impetus in writing it.

To begin with, maybe I should call Dickon “her other play” on the subject, as I think Sorry kids, no feet nailed it when she said in a comment on one of Tannat’s status updates that The Daughter of Time “read(s) like a play without actually being a play”.  It actually is a play, with only one stage setting — Grant’s hotel room –, deliberately confining him (who becomes the audience’s voice and brain) to that setting, depriving him of any and all other, and perhaps more conventional forms of entertainment right in the first chapter — not without a few wry sidelines on the state of the literary art and industry of the day –, and thus neatly focusing his, and hence the reader’s, attention on that one single thing remaining and apt enough to tease his brain: an investigation into an unsolved mystery of the past.  And of course, that hoary old chestnut, the fate of “the Princes in the Tower”, will never do — the investigation soon takes a completely different direction when Grant decides (very much like Ms. Tey herself, obviously) that Richard III’s face and his reputation simply don’t synch, and just how his name ended up on the list of history’s greatest villains must thus urgently be looked into (and set right).

Dubious, overrated, and dated starting point (“face reading”) aside, the real importance of Tey’s book lies, of course, in the profound shattering of the reputation that Richard III had had until then, ever since he lost his life at Bosworth and the Tudors had the control of what history would eventually make of the reign of the last York Plantagenet king.  There had been previous attempts to set the record straight both in the 18th and the 19th century, but it arguably took Tey’s deliberate choice of presenting the issue in the guise of a (well-researched) mass-marketed novel, in tandem with a stage play, to bring so much public attention to the matter that even well-known historic scholars could no longer ignore it — and the debate has been alive and well ever since.  (Even the presentation at the Bosworth visitor center is now painstakingly neutral in its overall approach, though some of the exhibit’s texts still clearly betray an anti-Ricardian bias.)

In The Daughter of Time, Tey presents the Tudors’ campaign of blackening Richard III’s name as only one, though a particularly grivous example of what she calls Tonypandy, for the town that was the focal point of the 1910-11 Welsh Miners’ strike, and which has since become a subject of a similarly furious historic dispute: to Tey, “Tonypandy” is a summary term signifying any and all instances of falsified historic and political propaganda.  Yet, as her play Dickon shows, it’s ultimately not “Tonypandy” at large that she is interested in but very much Richard III himself, in whom (and in whose features) she takes an enormous interest, reflected in Grant’s comments and thoughts on his portrait in The Daughter of Time, as much as in her own passionate advocacy, both in the play and in the novel.

In fact, the play neatly distills the “Dickon” content of the novel down to its essentials and presents the events in question in their own, proper historical setting; refuting — scene by scene — Shakespeare’s portrayal of the same events in his Richard III (or Tudor propaganda Exhibit A, as Tey saw it). And in one, perhaps the most endearing scene of the play, she has her Richard III do exactly what she expected of historians, and what Grant’s American “woolly lamb” research assistant does in the novel: Tease out the minutiae of daily life from the records left behind; obtain your information straight from the source, instead of relying on hearsay accounts written only after the fact.  “All the stuff of Middleham is here.  All that I have missed”, Richard tells his wife Anne when she wonders how he can possibly be so fascinated with their Yorkshire home’s account books, even though she faithfully reports on everything that is going on while he is in London with his brother, the King.  “But you don’t tell me that Betsy has been shod, that there is a new lock on the little east gate, that the dairy window was broken, that Kemp has had a boil on his neck,” he answers.  “That is Middleham.  If I cannot live it, I can at least look at the picture.”

Some of the things that Tey considered Tudor propaganda have since been proven true; e.g., the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in that infamous Leicester parking lot has revealed that he really did have a spinal deformity and would thus have presented as a hunchback — so the Tudors didn’t need to lie about everything; they could also exploit features that their contemporaries would have been familiar with.  And other things, we will probably never know — personally I doubt whether, even if the remains of the “Princes in the Tower” were now found, too (against all odds), centuries after their disappearance, that discovery would do much to clarify who engineered their disappearance and apparent murder (unless other instances would throw additional light on the issue at the same time).  But ultimately this is about more than the fates of Edward IV’s sons; it’s about truth in the historical record, about unbiased research, and about the value of primary (= direct) vs. secondary (= indirect) evidence / hearsay.

And whereas a reader interested in the period now may come to her (play-disguised-as-a-)novel (and her (other) play) with quite a different perspective on Richard III, his victorious rival Henry VII, and the period as such, the splash that her writing made upon its first publication can still be heard to this day.  For that in and of itself, her decision to take the issue out of the academic debate and into the realm of popular fiction can’t be applauded loudly enough.


Bosworth: the battlefield today.


The Leicester parking lot where Richard III’s remains were found.


Commemorative / explanatory plaque on a wall near the parking lot gates …


… and an out-take of the above image: Richard III’s skeleton


The parking lot is down a narrow alley from Leiceseter Cathedral


The Tomb in Leicester Cathedral


The gold-decorated chancel of Leicester Cathedral right behind the altar, where Richard’s tomb is located


The coffin in which Richard’s bones were carried into the cathedral for reburial (the cloth is hand-embroidered)

Tower of London: The round building center/left is the Bloody Tower, where King Edward IV’s sons, today known simply as “the Princes in the Tower,” are believed to have been held.

  
Bloody Tower: Exhibition on the disappearance of “the Princes in the Tower.”
(All photos mine.)

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2429859/dickon

England (the Southern / Central Part), from East to West and Back: Bookish Souvenirs

Jane Austen's Hampshire - Terry Townsend The Book of Margery Kempe - Margery Kempe, Barry Windeatt Intimate Letters of England's Queens - Margaret Sanders 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory - Ian Mortimer Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors - Chris Skidmore Constable in Love: Love, Landscape, Money and the Making of a Great Painter - Martin Gayford The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf The House of Rothschild: Volume 2: The World's Banker: 1849-1999 - Niall Ferguson The Malice of Unnatural Death - Michael Jecks The Late Show - Michael Connelly

The Trip:

* Chiltern Hills and Thames Valley (to mystery lovers, aka “Midsomer County” — though given that this is an area chock-full of quintessential(ly) English villages, it’s no surprise that it also routinely provides locations for other series, such as Inspector Morse, The Vicar of Dibley, and of course, adaptations of Agatha Christie’s mysteries … Christie herself, after all, also spent her last years in this area, in a village just outside of Wallingford, where she is also buried.)

* Chawton: Jane Austen’s home

* Gloucester and Malmesbury

* The Welsh Borderland: The Welsh Marches, Herefordshire, and Shropshire

* Bosworth and Leicester

* East Anglia: Norfolk, Ely, and Stour Valley (aka [John] Constable Country)

 

The Souvenirs:

* Jane Austen:
– Pride and Prejudice — an imitation leather-bound miniature copy of the book’s first edition
Lady Susan — audio version performed, inter alia, by Harriet Walter
– Teenage Writings (including, inter alia, Cassandra, Love and Freindship, and The History of England)

* Terry Townsend: Jane Austen’s Hampshire (gorgeously illustrated hardcover)

* Hugh Thomson:
– Illustrations to Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion
– Illustrations to Mansfield Park and Emma

* Pen Vogler: Tea with Jane Austen

… plus other Austen-related bits, such as a playing card set featuring Hugh Thomson’s illustrations for Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion, two Austen first edition refrigerator magnets, two “Austen 200” designer pens, a Chawton wallpaper design notepad, and a set of Austen-related postcards.



* Margery Kempe: The Book of Margery Kempe
* Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love
(have read bits of pieces of both, but never yet the whole thing(s) — something to be remedied soonish)

* Margaret Sanders (ed.):
– Letters of England’s Queens
– Letters of England’s Kings

(“Queens” looks decidedly more interesting, but I figured since there were both volumes there … Unfortunately, neither contains any Plantagenet correspondence, though; they both start with the Tudors.)

* Terry Jones: Medieval Lives

* Ian Mortimer:
– The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330
– 1415: Henry V’s Year of Glory

* Chris Skidmore: Bosworth — The Birth of the Tudors

* David Baldwin: Richard III

* Richard Hayman: The Tudor Reformation

* Glyn E. German: Welsh History

(The last two are decidedly more on the “outline” side, but they’re useful fast, basic references)

* Martin Gayford: Constable in Love — the painter John Constable, that is.

* Andrea Wulf: The Invention of Nature (yeah, I know, late to the party, but anyway … and at least I got the edition with the black cover!)

* Chris Beardshaw: 100 Plants that almost changed the World (as title and cover imply, nothing too serious, but a collection of interesting tidbits nevertheless)

* Niall Ferguson: The House of Rothschild — The World’s Banker, 1849-1999

* Michael Jecks, Knights Templar:
– The Leper’s Return
– The Boy-Bishop’s Glovemaker
– The Devil’s Acolyte
– The Chapel of Bones
– The Butcher of St. Peter’s
– The Malice of Unnatural Death

* Shirley McKay: Hue & Cry (a mystery set in Jacobean St. Andrews, Scotland)

… and finally, two present-day mystery/thrillers, just to balance off (well, not really, but anyway …) all that history:

* Jo Nesbø: The Snowman
* Michael Connelly: The Late Show

… plus several more mugs for my collection (because I clearly don’t own enough of those yet), two Celtic knot bookmarks, a Celtic knot T-shirt, a Celic knot pin, a Celtic knot designer pen (can you tell I really like Celtic knot designs?), assorted handmade soaps and lavender sachets, and assorted further postcards and sticky notes, plus in-depth guidebooks of pretty much every major place I visited (which guidebooks I sent ahead by mail before leaving England, so they’re currently still en route to my home).

ETA:
Oh, and then there’s John le Carré‘s The Pigeon Tunnel, which I bought at the airport right before my departure and am currently reading.  Books that you buy at the departure for a trip do qualify for a vacation book haul, don’t they?

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1584593/england-the-southern-central-part-from-east-to-west-and-back-bookish-souvenirs

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Warrior Kings of England – The Story of the Plantagenet Dynasty [REBLOG]

Reblogged from: Carpe Librum

This course at Medieval Courses is 1/2 price until August 14th. I have signed up to take it and thought some of you might be interested as well. With payment ($49), you receive lifetime access to 24 modules with audio, quizzes, & additional reading recommendations. The author of the course is Toni Mount, who should sound somewhat familiar. She is also the author of last month’s More Historical than Fiction selection, Colour of Poison.

 

Source:
medievalcourses.com/overview/warrior-kings-england-mc04

Original post:
http://carpelibrum.booklikes.com/post/1444203/warrior-kings-of-england-the-story-of-the-plantagenet-dynasty

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RICHARD III (Ian McKellen)

Villany Unveiled

A gala ball: The York family celebrate their reascent to power; the Wars of the Roses (named for the feuding houses’ heraldic badges: Lancaster’s red and York’s white rose) are almost over. Actually, the year is 1471, but for present purposes, we’re in the 1930s. A singer (Stacey Kent) delivers a swinging “Come live with me and be my love.” Richard of Gloucester (Sir Ian McKellen), the reinstated sickly King Edward IV’s (John Wood’s) youngest brother, moves through the crowd; observing, watching his second brother George, Duke of Clarence (Nigel Hawthorne) being quietly led off by Tower warden Brackenbury (Donald Sumpter) and his subalterns. With Clarence gone, Richard seizes the microphone, its discordant screech cutting through the singer’s applause, and he, who himself made this night possible by killing King Henry VI of Lancaster and his son, begins a victory speech: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York” (cut to Edward, who regally acknowledges the tribute). But when Richard mentions “grim-visaged war,” who “smooth’d his wrinkled front,” the camera closes in on his mouth, turning it into a grimace reminiscent of the legend known to any spectator in Shakespeare‘s Globe Theatre: that he wasn’t just born “with his feet first” but also “with teeth in his mouth;” hence, not only crippled (though whether also hunchbacked is uncertain) but cursed from birth, his physical deformity merely outwardly representing his inner evil.

Then, mid-sentence, the image cuts again. Richard enters a bathroom; and as he continues his monologue we see that only now, relieving himself and talking – with narcissistic pleasure – to his own image in the mirror, he truly speaks his mind; contemptuously dismissing a war that’s lost its menace and “capers nimbly in a lady’s bedchamber,” and determining that, since he now has no delight but to mock his own deformed shadow, and “cannot prove a lover,” he’ll “prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days.”

Thus, Richard’s first soliloquy, which actually opens the play on a London street, brilliantly demonstrates the signature elements of this movie’s (and the preceding stage production’s) success: not only its updated 20th century context but its creative use of settings and imagery; boldly cutting and rearranging Shakespeare‘s words without anytime, however, betraying his intent. Indeed, that pattern is already set with the prologue’s murder of King Henry VI and his son, where following a telegraph report that “Richard of Gloucester is at hand – he holds his course toward Tewkesbury” (slightly altered lines from the last scenes of the preceding King Henry VI, Part 3) Richard himself emerges from a tank breaking through the royal headquarters’ wall, breathing heavily through a gas mask: As his shots ring out, riddling the prince with bullets, the blood-red letters R-I-C-H-A-R-D-III appear across the screen.

And as creatively it continues: Richard woos Lady Anne (Kristin Scott Thomas), Henry’s daughter-in-law, in a morgue instead of a street (near her husband’s casket), and later drives her into drug abuse. Henry’s Cassandra-like widow Margaret is one of several characters omitted entirely; whereas foreign-born Queen Elizabeth is purposely cast with an American (Annette Bening), whose performance has equally purposeful overtones of Wallis Simpson; and whose playboy-brother Earl Rivers (Robert Downey Jr.) dies “in the act.” Clarence is murdered while the rest of the family sits down to a lavish (although discordant) dinner. When upon his ally Lord Buckingham’s (Jim Broadbent’s) machinations, Richard is “persuaded” to take the crown, he emerges from a veritable film star’s dressing room complete with full-sized mirror and manicurists (sold to the attending crowd outside as “two deep divines” praying with him). Tyrrell (Adrian Dunbar), already one of Clarence’s murderers, quickly rises through uniformed ranks, and moves from regular army to SS, as he further bloodies his hands. Richard’s and Elizabeth’s final spar over her daughter’s hand takes place in the train-wagon serving as his field headquarters; and we actually see that same princess wed to his arch-enemy Richmond (Dominic West), King Henry VII-to-be and founder of the Tudor dynasty, with lines taken from Richmond’s closing monologue. Perhaps most importantly, we also witness Richard’s coronation, which Shakespeare himself – honoring that ceremony’s perception as holy – decided not to show; although even here it is presented not as a glorious procedure of state but only in a brief snippet rerun immediately from the distance of a private, black-and-white film shown only for Richard’s and his entourage’s benefit.

And challenging as this project is, its stellar cast – also including Maggie Smith (a formidable Duchess of York), Jim Carter (Prime Minister Lord Hastings), Roger Hammond (the Archbishop), and Tim McInnerny and Bill Paterson (Richard’s underlings Catesby and Ratcliffe) – uniformly prove themselves more than up to the task: Indeed, although the single largest spotlight is clearly on McKellen‘s Richard, the movie’s other performances are so strong that the film comes across very much like an ensemble piece of the highest order.

Even if the temporal setting didn’t already spell out the allegory on the universality of evil that McKellen and director Richard Loncraine obviously intend, you’d have to be blind to miss the visual references to fascism: the uniforms, the gathering modeled on the infamous Nuremberg Reichsparteitag, the long red banners with a black boar in a white circle (playing up the image of the boar Shakespeare himself uses: similarly, Richard’s and Tyrrell’s first meeting is set in a pig-sty, and Lord Stanley’s [Edward Hardwicke’s] prophetic dream follows an incident where Richard, for a split-second, loses his self-control). But the imagery goes even further: Richard’s narcissism is reminiscent of Chaplin’s Great Dictator; and you don’t have to watch this movie contemporaneously with any Star Wars installment to visualize Darth Vader during his gas mask-endowed entry in the first scene.

“[T]hus I clothe my naked villany with odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ; and seem a saint when most I play the devil,” Richard comments in the play: if there’s one line I regret to see cut here it’s this one, for it so clearly encompasses the way many a modern despot assumes power, too; by cloaking his true intent in the veneer of formal legality. Even so: this is a highlight among the recent decades’ Shakespeare adaptations; under no circumstances to be missed.

 

Production Credits /
Cast and Crew

Production Credits
  • Studio: British Screen Productions / United Artists (1995)
  • Director: Richard Loncraine
  • Executive Producers: Ian McKellen / Maria Apodiacos / Ellen Dinerman Little / Joe Simon
  • Screenplay: Ian McKellen / Richard Loncraine
  • Based on a play by: William Shakespeare
  • Music: Trevor Jones
  • Cinematography / Director of Photography: Peter Biziou
Cast
  • Ian McKellen: Richard III
  • Annette Bening: Queen Elizabeth, wife of Edward IV
  • Maggie Smith: Duchess of York
  • Kristin Scott Thomas: Lady Anne
  • Jim Broadbent: Duke of Buckingham
  • Jim Carter: Lord William Hastings
  • Nigel Hawthorne: George, Duke of Clarence
  • John Wood: King Edward IV
  • Robert Downey Jr.: Lord Rivers
  • Edward Hardwicke: Lord Thomas Stanley
  • Tim McInnerny: Sir William Catesby
  • Bill Paterson: Sir Richard Ratcliffe
  • Adrian Dunbar: James Tyrell
  • Donald Sumpter: Brackenbury
  • Dominic West: Earl of Richmond
  • Roger Hammond: Archbishop Thomas
  • Edward Jewesbury: King Henry VI
  • Stacey Kent: Ballroom Singer

 

Major Awards

BAFTA Awards (1997)
  • Best Production Design: Tony Burrough
  • Best Costume Design: Shuna Harwood
Evening Standard British Film Awards (1997)
  • Best Film: Ian McKellen
  • Best Technical/Artistic Achievement (Production Design): Tony Burrough
European Film Awards (1996)
  • Best Actor: Ian McKellen
Berlin International Film Festival (1996)
  • Best Director: Richard Loncraine
    Tied with Ho Yim for “Taiyang you er” (The Sun Has Ears)

 

Links

London & (mainly) Stratford-upon-Avon Book Haul, June 2014

5:45 pm 18 June 2014
London & (mainly) Stratford-upon-Avon Book Haul, June 2014

 

  • Thomas Penn – Winter King: The Dawn of the Tudor Age
  • Neil MacGregor – Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects
  • Julian Curry (ed.) – Shakespeare on Stage: Thirteen Leading Actors on Thirteen Key Roles (interviews with, inter alia, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Derek Jacobi, Jude Law, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Kevin Spacey and Patrick Stewart)
  • Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: Dramatized Version
  • Ian Mortimer – The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King
  • William Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: 2012 Globe Theatre Production (DVD) (an all male production starring, inter alia, Mark Rylance as Olivia and Stephen Fry as Malvolio – I’d seen that production live at the Globe in 2012 and had been waiting ever since for the DVD to come out … Best “Twelfth Night” ever!)
  • William Shakespeare – Henry IV, Parts I & II: Music and Speeches from the 2014 Royal Shakespeare Company Production directed by Gregory Doran (CD)
  • Jonathan Bate – Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare
  • Dan Jones – The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England
  • Margaret Campbell Barnes – Within the Hollow Crown: A Valiant King’s Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty, and His Love
  • Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries
  • Ian Rankin – Saints of the Shadow Bible
  • George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones
  • George R.R. Martin – A Clash of Kings
  • Maritime Greenwich
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich (guide)

 

… plus 4 Shakespearean plays in 4 days:

Antony & Cleopatra (Globe Theatre, London – with BrokenTune [waves] – starring Eve Best as Cleopatra, Clive Wood as Antony and Phil Daniels as Enobarbus)*

Henry IV, Part 1 (RSC, Stratford, starring Jasper Britton as Henry IV, Antony Sher as Falstaff, Alex Hassell/Sam Marks as Prince Hal,** and Paola Dionisotti as Mistress Quickly)

Henry IV, Part 2 (RSC, Stratford, starring the above plus Oliver Ford Davies as Justice Shallow)

Macbeth (The HandleBards – totally hilarious.  Separate post to come!)

 

* BT also spotted Martin Shaw in the audience, in a middle gallery section right across from us … (from which moment onwards our attention was, err, divided between the stage and the middle gallery).

 

** Sam Marks in the performances I saw – I later learned that he’d had all of 20 minutes’ notice that it would be him and not Alex Hassell playing … and boy, did he acquit himself marvelously!