Posts Tagged ‘Books’

3
Sep

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?Thanks to Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill the phrase “Looking for Richard” became part of our lives and enthralled us through the search, discovery and final result. Then came the pride and emotion as we witnessed the re-interment – and acknowledgement of King Richard’s life in Leicester.

But what happens if you aren’t looking for Richard and he – and some historical connections – suddenly turn up when you least expect them, usually through a brief reference is a totally unexpected book.

I changed my mind about Richard’s character at the ripe old age of ten. I’d read the junior history books, seen the Millais’ portrait of those innocent little boys and even accepted the fact that in a pantomime The Babes in the Wood (at the Bournemouth Pavilion for the Dorset Group’s info) the wicked uncle wore black and had a hunchback. Hmm.

Then my sister and I saw a production of The Black Arrow at London’s Old Vic theatre and this was the cue for a major switch. This novel is subtitled A Tale of Two Roses and is set during the Cousin’s War. The young hero, Richard Shelton fighting for the Yorkists, becomes aware of a fierce encounter taking place. One of a small group of fighters is “so active and dexterous … so desperately did he charge and scatter his opponents … but so icy was the ground, one slip and his life would be forfeit.”

Young Richard of course comes to this man’s aid, the fight is won and he is “surprised to find in one who had displayed such strength skill and energy [was] a lad no older than himself – slightly deformed, with one shoulder higher than the other … The eyes, however, were very clear and bold.”

This is his first meeting with the young Duke of Gloucester, and after more fighting, Richard is knighted by the Duke for his valour, and finally, with the Duke’s royal consent, marries his love Joanna. RLS may well have been an early Ricardian …

A few years later, when reading one of English author Angela Thirkell’s delightful novels in which she picks up the descendants and places of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels, and sets them in the mid-1900s, I rejoiced to find Mrs Morland praising The Black Arrow.

“Why Stevenson thought so poorly of that book I shall never understand. All my boys loved it … And it was the only thing that made me really interested in Richard Crookback, until I read that book by that clever woman with three names, who proved that Richard didn’t murder the little Princes in the Tower and was a hero all the time and not a villain.”

Well, we all know the name of that book, don’t we? It’s probably on everyone’s bookshelves even after all the years since it was published in 1951.

Another book I loved at about the same age was Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown. Twelve-year-old Maddy, an aspiring actress, learns about a film being made about a castle near her home. The kindly Bishop who is a family friend, takes her for lunch (with meringues) to soothe her misery at being left behind while her sister and older friends start at drama academy. Afterwards they go for a walk near the castle and he tells her that the film is about the daughter of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon. He has just found some old papers that reveal that “at twelve years old away she fledde, forsook her crown but saved her hedde”. Apparently there was a plan to put her on the throne after Henry VII died, but naturally Henry VIII would have none of it.

There are some pretty valid comments about the undesirability of this particular Tudor and his propensity for an axe and a block to dispense with those he no longer needed in his life!

Richard isn’t mentioned, but I liked the Tudor reference. And, of course, our 12-year-old finds out that the daughter of Arthur is being played by a well-known and glamorous actress and chaos inevitably ensues. Now guess who plays the role at the right age …

Ricardians who are also die-hard fans of detective novels will be familiar with the Inspector Lynley novels, by the American author Elizabeth George, a self-confessed supporter of the last Plantagenet king. Her references to him in many of her books give us enormous pleasure – as does the investigation through to pages to find his name! These are some of my favourites.

The Evidence Exposed:

This is a collection of three novellas, in one of which – I Richard – an interesting theory as to what happened to the Princes and, indeed, whodunit, is presented. With Philippa Langley’s new quest to discover an answer to the age-old mystery, you could appreciate the idea.

Well-Schooled in Murder

Sergeant Barbara Havers asks Lynley why the statue of Henry VII outside a school faces north, not south, towards the school entry.

“He wants us to remember his moment of glory. So he’s looking to the north, in the direction of Bosworth Field.”

“‘Ah. Death and treachery. The end of Richard III. Why does it always slip my mind that you’re a Yorkist… Do you spit on Henry’s tomb whenever you get the chance to slip down to the Abbey?”

He smiled. “Religiously. It’s one of my rare pleasures.”

Missing Joseph:

Lynley speaks to Deborah and Simon St James about the power of tourism: “Don’t people pay to see the Queen of Scots death mask?”

“Not to mention some of the grimmer spots of the Tower London,” St James said. “The Chapel Royal, Wakefield Tower.”

“Why bother with the Crown Jewels when you can see a chopping block?” Lynley added. “Crime doesn’t pay, but death brings them running with a few quid.”

“Is this irony from the man who’s made at least five personal pilgrimages to Bosworth Field on the twenty-second of August?” Deborah asked blithely. “… where you drink from the well and swear to Richard’s ghost that you would have fought for the Yorks?”

“That’s not death,” Lynley said with some dignity, lifting his glass to salute her. “That’s history, my girl. Someone’s got to be willing to set the record straight.”

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, is a recent publication I enjoyed. Set in an old, crumbling English manor, the heroine, living a lonely life there, is convinced that one night the resident ghost is around. The sound of footsteps, drifts of perfume and so on. According to local legend this is none other than Margaret of Anjou who stayed there on her way to join young Edouard, Lancaster Prince of Wales, at Tewkesbury, unaware that his death is imminent. It seems that the author assumed her readers would know exactly who Margaret was as there is no further reference to her back story, the Cousins’ War, or the fact that her companion would have been Anne Neville , the future queen and wife of Richard III.

The uncertainly and mystery about Richard has obviously struck a chord with many authors. One of those in the Golden Age of English Crime Writing was Dorothy L. Sayers who, in Have His Carcase has her noble detective Lord Peter Wimsey on the hunt for the killer of a young man whose body was found stranded on a rock off the Cornish coast. His quest takes him to the offices of theatrical agents where the photograph of the victim reminds one agent of someone who would have made “a good Judas”. “Or a Richard III,” says the other.

Then follows an interesting discussion of the guises Richard portrays in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The man who plots, the man who flies into tempers that, according these two, are as artificial as his love-making to Anne. As he leaves, Wimsey asks the Inspector who is with him what made them think of Richard III.

“Wasn’t he the fellow who made up his mind to be a villain?” to which Lord Peter confesses that he has “something on his mind and can’t seem get it out”. A nice cue to let you read on!

A further visit to a theatrical connection occurs in one of the other-authored sequels to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In Sally Beauman’s Rebecca’s Tale we meet one of those seeking to find the secrets of Rebecca’s life, and an obscure reference leads him to the memoirs of legendary actor manager Sir Frank McKendrick, who recalls the charming young actress Isabel Devlin who had died shortly after leaving his company.

“I grieved for her. I should add that Miss Devlin’s daughter was also at this time a member of our little “band of brothers” … she was a most unusual and wicked Puck at a very early age and was of great use to us in boys’ roles. I remember her as a swaggering but subtle young Princeling to my Richard III … but we heard no more of her after her mother died.”

Unusual, wicked, swaggering and subtle could all apply to the later mistress of Manderley.

And Shakespeare’s Edward V recalls another childhood book, Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes in which young Pauline’s portrayal of the role leads her on to the fortune that helps her family.

How many other books are there to prove that their authors found him just as significant as Ricardians? Information welcome!

 

The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson, published 1888.

Three Score and Ten, by Angela Thirkell, Hamish Hamilton, 1961

Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown, Nelson, 1945

The Evidence Exposed, by Elizabeth George, Hodder & Stoughton 1999. ISBN 0 34 075 063 0

Well-Schooled in Murder, by Elizabeth George Bantam, 1990. ISBN 0 553 401 167

Missing Joseph, by Elizabeth George, Bantam, 1993. ISBN 0 553 402 382

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, Michael Joseph, 2014. ISBN 978-0-718-17928-1

Have His Carcase, by Dorothy L. Sayers, Gollancz 1932.

Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beaumont, Little Brown, 2001. ISBN 0 316 858 137

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfield, Dent 1936.

 

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2
Sep

Digging for Richard III

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Bookworm

Digging for Richard III

Book Review:  Digging for Richard III

Mike Pitts, Digging for Richard III: How Archaeology Found the King. Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2014

 Note (2 September 2015):

This review of the first edition of  Digging for Richard III was originally posted in August 2014.  I have reposted it now, as a new paperback edition of this excellent book has just been published.  For this new edition, the text has been revised and it has been extended, too.  More about the paperback edition on Mike Pitts’ blog.  Highly recommended!

 

Please note this book had come out before the results of further research were published, and therefore does not contain any information on these issues.

Unlike many other recent books about the Greyfriars Dig, which led to the discovery of Richard III’s remains, Digging for Richard III was written by someone who was not himself involved in the project, which gives it a certain amount of impartiality.

Like a play the book is organised in five acts, the narrative building up to the dramatic climax in Act V. The first act sets the scene for Richard’s death in battle and burial at the Grey Friars in Leicester with a short review of the Wars of the Roses. Act II ‘Looking for Richard III’ tells the story of what led to the archaeological dig and giving background information on the key players like Philippa Langley and the research staff from ULAS. While some details of Philippa Langley’s pre-dig life have been circulated widely, the information about the archaeologists was new to me. It confirmed them to be an experienced team, who knew what they were doing.

Act III looks at the actual excavation resulting in exhuming the skeleton, which was found on the first day and would be shown to be that of Richard. It ends with the van carrying the remains leaving the car park.

Up to that point this was a co-project of the Richard III Society/Looking for Richard Project and the University of Leicester. Act IV marks the beginning of a new research project, one that will be exclusively carried out by scientist. The results of this research are then represented in Act V.

Mike Pitts also includes an analysis of the costs and who paid what. Considering how much misinformation is circulating on this issue, this is highly welcome. The original budget had been £33,000, of which the Richard III Society and its members had contributed a little more than half. However, once remains had been found that warranted further examination –examination, which was necessary to prove that the remains were those of Richard III – the budget had risen (by 31 December 2012) to £142,000. The additional funding came from the University of Leicester, which means that they paid for about 80% of the entire project.

The book closes with an Epilogue, which covers the actual site of the Battle of Bosworth and some of the other battles, which have since been fought over Richard. He also differentiates between history and archaeology, with archaeology making “the concept of history tangible and present, part of our lives.” [p.189] To be honest, I don’t see how any serious history is possible without evidence, be it archaeological or from old records.

This brings me to the one criticism that I have with this book. The author seems to have a rather undifferentiated view of the membership of the Richard III Society. For him, they are bunch of sentimental loonies, who won’t let any facts stand in the way of their pre-conceived idea of perfect Richard. While I can’t deny that some members do think like that, and possibly they are even the most vocal, they do not represent the membership as a whole, which is – like any group of people – very varied.

However, apart from this little niggle, I found Digging for Richard III a highly enjoyable and an informative summary of the facts of the project, without the speculation and assumptions, which some of the other books on the topic cannot leave behind. It tells the whole incredible story in a lively manner, without sacrificing the facts in the quest for readability. Sir Tony Robinson’s quote on the cover sums it up nicely: “An entertaining, knowledgeable and forensic examination of one of the most extraordinary archaeological digs ever!”

Listen to an interview with Mike Pitts about Digging for Richard here.

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2
Apr

HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA CONFERENCE

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA CONFERENCE

Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference in Sydney – A Review

The weekend of March 20-22 proved a rewarding one for writers of historical fiction, whether their work was already established or still in embryo. It took delegates to the Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference far beyond the bodice-ripper image to valuable considerations of topics and treatments and through historical ages in war and peace from the Normans to Anzacs.

The opening on Friday evening at the State Library of New South Wales combined cocktails and conversation with reunions with old friends and new acquaintances to meet. The welcoming address was followed by the launch of Unholy Murder, the third book in Felicity Pulman’s Janna Chronicles set during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda. NSW Ricardians who attended the 2010 conference at Cammeray will remember Felicity’s skill at extensive research when she was a guest speaker – and later became a Friend of the Branch.

The evening concluded with a fascinating round table debate on “What can historical novelists and historians learn from each other?”

On Saturday and Sunday the venue was Balmain Town Hall and after a welcome from HNSA Patron Kate Forsyth, Colin Falconer (When We Were Gods, Silk Road, Stigmata) spoke succinctly and entertainingly on The Anzac tradition of inspiration: imagining the past, claiming the present. This was followed by Peter Corris and Sulari Gentil recounting how their careers have progressed, their inspirations and how they tackle their subjects (and for those of you who might consider Corris’s indefatigable PI Cliff Hardy as not anyone of historical interest, just reflect that he has been around for 40 years and his world has changed dramatically).

A varied and delicious morning tea break led to three historical novelists revealing how they select the age about which they are writing and the research needed to bring characters, plot and period to credible life. The novelists were Juliet Marillier, known for her splendid historical fantasies, New Zealander Craig Cliff (The Mannequin Makers) and Isolde Martyn, former chair of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society and author of award winning novels including The Lady and the Unicorn, and recently Mistress to the Crown and The Golden Widows.

Further discussion followed until lunch time including a discussion as to whether historical novelists can capture young readers at a time when the films such as Hunger Games and vampires dominate. In the afternoon the tales of World Wars 1 and 2 were highlighted, showing characters conquering or succumbing to the dramas around them. This was followed by readings of one-page submissions and how they could attract – or not – a publisher’s attention.

Dinner was held at the nearby Royal Oak Hotel, where the occupants of all the tables seemed to have much to talk about, encouraged by the good food and wine and company that made a memorable evening.

Sunday’s opening feature was fascination: two authors describing how they changed their already successful careers to become historical novelists. Toni Jordan was a molecular biologist before turning to write great contemporary fiction and then changing again to historical fiction. Posie Graeme-Evans was an exceptionally successful television director, producer and executive (McLeods Daughters and more) before taking the leap into writing about the past, the people and time slips that link them.

The following discussion was one to intrigue all Ricardians, What is it about the Tudors? And why are publishers so fascinated by them and opt for these times above other periods? Tudorphilia prevails and the panel for this had much to say. When asked about their favourite Tudor personality, the majority opted for Elizabeth with Anne Boleyn a close second. NSW Ricardian and frequent contributor to our website, novelist Barbara Gaskell Denvil, pointed out that the Tudors all came with a tag attached such as “Six Wives”, “Bloody Mary”, “Virgin Queen”. (Later she and I lamented that no-one put in a word for our favourite Tudor Anne of Cleves, surely as much a victim of Tudor propaganda as King Richard III.)

(I would have loved to have heard the other talks, but had to leave early to catch the coach for my five-hour trip home.)

The rest of the discussions included novels of fantasy, mystery and time-slips; the possibilities and perils of independent publishing; and agents and publishing representatives telling what they look for. I am told that the day ended – as all occasions should – with In Bed with History: sexy, saucy and sizzling bedroom scenes read with glee and gusto by Colin Falconer and Kate Forsyth.

It was a rewarding and interesting time, well organised with worthwhile speakers who spoke with knowledge and humour. It was the first conference that the Historical Novels Society of Australasia had held. I doubt it will be the last.

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27
Aug

The King’s Dogge

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Bookworm

The King's Dogge

Book Review:  The King’s Dogge

The following review is by Rob Smith of the New Zealand Branch and was first published in the August 2014 Ricardian Recorder. We thank Rob for his permission to post it here.

Nigel Green, The King’s Dogge: The Story of Francis Lovell, Troubador Publishing Ltd (2014) ISBN 9781783068425

This novel, written in the first person, portrays the life of the King’s Dogge, Francis Lovell up to Bosworth. A sequel is promised. A mixture of known historical facts and events coupled with the author’s vivid imagination results in, to my mind, a rather laborious narrative.

Lovell’s progression from his early days, to his service with Montague and Warwick and thence to their demise at Barnet is informative enough as is his consequent meeting with the Yorkist hierarchy and his entry into Richard’s service. Lovell’s service to Richard in Carlisle and the Border encounters with outlaws and the Scots are laid out but possibly over-emphasised. What I was to find throughout is the author’s tendency to concentrate on the minutia of lesser happenings while allowing other more significant events to be passed over lightly or ignored completely, perhaps relying on the reader’s knowledge to fill in the gaps. However, to be fair, this is a story about Lovell and if he was not involved in these events the author may consider it inappropriate to dwell on them.

What is interesting is Green’s portrayal of the various characters, not least Richard. The author’s Richard is a loyal brother but a vacillating, indecisive king and a pawn in the hands of a scheming Anne Neville who is determined to bring down the Woodville faction for what they did to her father, Warwick. She is shown as the power behind the throne. As Lovell rises to the top in Richard’s service he starts to question and has doubts about his King but remains steadfastly loyal to the end.

Buckingham, Hastings, the Stanleys, etc. are as we know them; Ratcliffe comes out OK but Catesby is shown as a fat, scheming, lawyer, self- serving from the outset as he climbs the ladder of influence, culminating in his engineering of the murder of the Princes (with Richard’s acceptance ), and his ultimate betrayal at Bosworth, being in league with the Stanleys and Northumberland conspiring beforehand in their treachery.

Incidentally, Tudor takes no part in the battle having been hidden away for his safety with decoys taking his place. Did Shakespeare get it right? …. “ I think there must be six Richmonds in the field/Five have I slain today instead of him” (Richard III Act V, Scene iv).

The King’s Dogge is an interesting portrayal of an important figure in Richard’s life but it lacks bite and requires patience and determination to reach the conclusion.

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27
Aug

Book Launch for Isolde Martyn’s latest book

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley    in Bookworm

frame_IsoldeMartyn_TheGoldenWidowsOn Thursday evening, 21 August 2014, Abbey’s Books in Sydney’s CBD hosted a launch for our member Isolde Martyn’s newest book, The Golden Widows. The publishers, Harlequin Mira, provided a lovely selection of wine and hors d’oeuvres for the after-work crowd, which included a good turnout of fellow Ricardians and Plantagenet Society members, many of whom queued to buy the book and have it signed by the author.

The official program began when the book’s editor spoke to those assembled and then introduced Isolde who gave a gracious talk thanking everyone involved with the publishing of this book. She explained that the story is that of Lancastrian widow, Elizabeth Woodville, who later married King Edward IV, and the Yorkist sister of Warwick the Kingmaker, Kate Neville, also newly widowed. Life in the 15th century was hard for all widowed women, even the young and beautiful – wherever their loyalties lay in the War of the Roses.

With her love and extensive knowledge of the late medieval era and armed with finely honed historical research skills, Isolde has produced a new book that promises to be as satisfying to her fans as have her previous works.

You can find out more about previous Isolde’s books by visiting her website.

The Golden Widows is available in Australia and New Zealand in print format or as an e-book through Amazon etc.

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14
Aug

The August NSW Branch Meeting

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley    in Branch News, Meetings, News

David MeeThe August meeting of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society was held on Saturday, 9 August 2014, at the Sydney Mechanics’ Institute. Chair Judith welcomed all members and guests. Leslie introduced the guest speaker, David Mee, who presented a fascinating look at the years between 1485 and 1520 in order to put into cultural and historical context the development of the coinage of the day. David has been a serious coin collector for over 20 years, and has European coins from Ireland to the Latin East, as he called it, defined as ‘wherever the crusaders went’. His many slides showed the artistry of the coin makers, and reflected the changing styles over the decades from frontal images of the symbolic head of the monarch, to the classic profile first used by Henry VII and soon copied by other rulers, as well. The coins minted during the reign of Richard III had a mintmark of a boar, the Duke of Gloucester’s symbol. There was a lively question and answer following the talk, as David was able to shed light on the more arcane aspects of the topic.

There were no committee reports presented but one important item of business was the announcement that the membership fees would not be increased for the coming year, and that all renewals are due before the next meeting in October. Renewal forms will be posted soon and all cheques are to be sent to the Secretary. Please note that even if you are not renewing your membership it is requested that you inform the Secretary in writing as a courtesy, if possible.

Business also included the discussion of the re-interment of Richard at Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. The events will be spread over a week, 22 to 28 March. After three days of lying in state for the public to pay their respects, Richard will be reburied with a formal Church of England service on 26 March. A special service for Society members will be held at the Cathedral on Monday, 23 March (more information can be found on the website of the Richard III Society). It is expected that several of our members will attend the ceremonies.

The New Zealand Richard III Society will be holding the biennial Australasian Convention over their long weekend of 23 -25 October 2015, and organisers were hoping to get an idea of how many members and friends might be making the journey to join them from Australia but it was too soon to tell.

Our member Isolde Martyn is having a book launch of her latest production, The Golden Widows, about Elizabeth Woodville and Katherine Hastings, on 21 August at Abbeys Bookstore on York Street, Sydney, 6pm for 6:30pm speeches and formal program. All members are invited.

The not-to-be-missed St Ives Medieval Fair will be held over the weekend of 20 and 21 September 2014, with a great line-up of family-friendly activities and attractions, including world-class jousters from Europe competing against the Australian contenders.

The Bosworth Service scheduled for the 24 August 2014 will be held at St Mary’s Anglican Church on Birrell Street in Waverley at 10am, with lunch at Arthur’s Pizza in Bondi Junction for interested members and friends afterwards. St Mary’s is a fine old sandstone church with lovely stained glass windows and gardens, and the Minister Rev Peter Clark and his congregation have always been very welcoming.

The Bring and Buy Table was a success, with many interesting items contributed to the branch for fundraising, and many pleased buyers, as well. The raffle was also drawn, then all broke for afternoon tea. The NSW Branch Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday, 11 October 2014, featuring this year’s ‘Scrabble Speakers’, members Dorothea, Maggie, and Rachel speaking on various gripping Ricardian topics

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28
Jul

Finding Richard III

   Posted by: Barbara Gaskell Denvil    in Bookworm

Book Review:  Finding Richard III – The Official Account

We thank Barbara for making her review of this book available to us.

Finding Richard III : The Official Account
of Research by the Retrieval & Reburial Project

Finding Richard IIIThe Looking for Richard Project team, specifically Philippa Langley (the inaugurator) , John Ashdown-Hill BA, MA, PhD, FSA, FRHistS, Annette Carson, David Johnson BA Hons, MA, PhD, and Wendy Johnson, set out to discover the burial place and human remains of Richard III himself, although these were long considered lost forever. This, the official account, is a clear, precise and riveting summary of facts, not of opinions. However, step by inspired step, we are led past the opinions of many as we follow the unique development of one of the most impressive and amazing archaeological discoveries ever achieved in England.

In early 2009, Philippa Langley launched the search for Richard III’s resting place. She and the team then worked together to meticulously discredit the long held rumour of the desecration of his grave and the tossing of his remains into the River Soar, even though this unsubstantiated rumour was frequently upheld by others, even historians. There have also been years of mistaken belief as to the site of the Greyfriars Priory, considered the probable place of original burial in 1485. Many historical errors and later misjudgements were now researched and carefully corrected by the team, all briefly summarised here. With lucid and detailed explanation, this books covers every aspect, matching medieval probabilities to modern specifics until gradually we feel we have travelled the same journey, walked those 15th century streets, peered into those shadowed mysteries and so can share the team’s inspirational optimism.

With enormous expertise and determination, the team persisted until 2012 when at last, with council permission obtained, funds raised (principally from the Richard III Society) and legal agreements made with the relevant authorities, ULAS (University of Leicester Archaeological Services), were contracted and paid in advance accordingly as demanded, to undertake the digging in the area specified by the Project. Indeed, ULAS had so little belief in the probability of discovering Richard III’s actual remains, that they accepted the commission only when the wording of the contract was amended to specify and limit the dig to the excavation of the Franciscan Priory Church. Philippa Langley then insisted that contractual obligations include provision for the possible exhumation of human remains. The Looking For Richard team’s accuracy was so impressive to seem virtually unbelievable, so even after the leg bones of an adult male were discovered in the designated area on the very first day of the dig, ULAS could not believe they had begun to uncover Richard III himself.

Included in the narrative are the surprising disappointments and the failures of some, in particular the areas where original contractual agreements have not been met by other parties. For instance, the shocking failure of the university to invite John Ashdown-Hill to the official announcement of Richard III’s DNA match, which identified his remains beyond reasonable doubt, even though it was Mr. Ashdown-Hill alone who traced the living descendent used to conclude that DNA match, and Ms. Langley was only invited to speak after the TV coverage had ended. It is also evidently of some concern and against the wording of the original contract, for the remains of this anointed monarch and ancestor of the queen to still be retained by the university instead of having been laid to rest in some prayerful and respectful place until the re-interment process can be conducted. Difficulties with the Cathedral administration are also recorded.

But there is no winter of discontent here, no list of complaints or failures. Indeed, the book is a celebration of a rare and glorious success, leading to a greater knowledge and understanding of this long misunderstood and maligned king, and eventually to a fitting reburial.

Written with impressive clarity and extensive footnotes, without unacademic or emotional emphasis, this short book explains exactly what happened from initiation to conclusion. It is the summary of the search itself, and includes a full list of those who donated to the costs and copies of all the contracts involved. The considerable respect and care shown by Ms. Langley for the legal drafting of the original contractual agreements is precise and impressive. Whether her wishes have been fully complied with since, is another matter.

Although such facts can, as would be expected, seem dry at times, there is not one moment when this book becomes heavy, or can be even momentarily discarded. It is both a fascinating and rewarding read from beginning to end. And FINDING RICHARD III: THE OFFICIAL ACCOUNT covers one more necessary task, that of explaining exactly how the search not only originated with the Finding Richard Project, but was successful owing to their incredible expertise and persistence. In the face of repeated claims and assumptions that Leicester University or ULAS discovered Richard III’s burial place and his remains, it was instead the studious research and ultimate success of The Finding Richard Project, who have now produced this official account to set the record straight.

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11
Jun

THE KING’S SHADOW

   Posted by: Barbara Gaskell Denvil    in Bookworm

A new novel by Barbara Gaskell Denvil, much appreciated member of the NSW Branch, has recently been published.  Barbara shares with us a blurb for her new book.  Having read and thoroughly enjoyed her previous novels Summerford’s Autumn and Satin Cinnabar, I can’t wait to spend some pleasant time in The King’s Shadow

(Page Admin)

King's ShadowBarbara Gaskell Denvil, The King’s Shadow.  Simon & Schuster Australia, 2014.  ISBN 9781925030068 (Trade Paperback and ebook)

Andrew Cobham is a man of unconventional behaviour, his home is unusually grand, and he answers no questions. But as he keeps his own secrets safe, so he works to uncover those of others.

It is 1483 and King Edward IV sits England’s throne, but no king rules unchallenged. Often it is those closest to him who prove the unexpected danger. When the king dies suddenly without clear cause, then rumour replaces fact – and Andrew Cobham is already working behind the scenes.

Tyballis, when orphaned young, was forced into marriage with her neighbour, a bully and simpleton. When she escapes his abuse, she meets Andrew Cobham, and gradually an uneasy alliance forms. This is a friendship which will take them in unusual directions as Tyballis becomes embroiled in Andrew’s work and the danger which surrounds him. Eventually it is a motley gathering of thieves, informers, prostitutes and children that joins the game, determined to help Andrew uncover treason. Abduction, murder, intrigue and political subterfuge come to a climax as the country is thrown onto the brink of war.

Richard of Gloucester is designated Protector of the Realm, and it is his responsibility to bring peace to England’s troubled land, and discover those who are determined to disturb the peace for their own ends. This book brings light to some of the more troublesome mysteries and the doubts surrounding his decisions, based firmly on what truths are at present known, and especially on those frequently overlooked.

This novel combines history and imagination, but in no place is wilful inaccuracy permitted. These are the facts both as they actually occurred, and as they probably occurred.

But it is also a book about the whole adventure of an uncommon life.

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15
Apr

Review of 12 April 2014 Meeting

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley    in Branch News, Meetings, News

meetingThe NSW Branch of the Richard III Society met on 12 April 2014 at the Sydney Mechanics Institute Building in the Sydney CBD. Branch Chairperson Judith welcomed all the regulars and several new members from Wagga Wagga who had made a special effort to attend the day’s meeting during their visit to Sydney.

The regular business of the branch was suspended due to time constraints, so there were no reports presented from the officers, nor review of previous minutes. However, this business had been taken care of during the Committee Meeting that preceded the General Meeting, and the Sales Officer, Treasurer, and Webmaster reports will be in the Minutes taken by the Branch Secretary.

The NSW Branch also wishes to extend their best wishes to a seriously ill member and wish her a speedy recovery

Our Guest Speaker, the Dean and CEO of the Sydney College of Divinity, Professor Diane Speed, was welcomed and introduced. Her presentation was a comprehensive and extremely interesting overview of the existing early medieval illuminated Bibles, Gospels and Psalters in the English Cathedral libraries and museums, illustrated with wonderfully detailed images painstakingly created by the monks throughout the centuries.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, 14 June 2014, when the speaker will be circus historian and author, Dr Mark St Leon, on Fairs and Circuses.

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30
Mar

Talking takes history to a wider audience

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

Mistress to the CrownThis is how Isolde Martyn, author, past chairperson of the New South Wales Branch and welcome speaker at our meetings, spent Thursday, March 27th. A guest of the Port Stephens Libraries at Tomaree and Raymond Terrace, she spoke on her novel Mistress to the Crown, her absorbing and well researched story about Elizabeth Lambard (aka Jane Shore). Many NSW Branch members attended the launch of this book last year.

Isolde’s talk gave wonderful insight to Elizabeth the person, the problems and people she had to cope with, as well as a fascinating view of the London in which she lived, loved and – not so well known– ran a successful business. And, no, William Shore was not a goldsmith, and examples of early novels whose covers implied that Elizabeth was a goldsmith’s wife were amusing viewing if bodice-ripper style appealed.

It was, as is often the case, a shame that those attending were quality not quantity, but enthusiastic questions and opinions gave hope that a few more people now realise that history was alive and well long before the Tudors butted in! This will be helped by the sales of the book, as well as those of Isolde’s novel about Harry Buckingham The Devil in Ermine. Richard was mentioned of course, especially his “what fools these mortals be” style letter about Tom Lynom. Another attendee was thrilled to know she shared Richard’s birthday!

We can look forward to another of Isolde’s books titled The Golden Widows that will be published by Mira in August this year. And the identity of the widows? The book opens with this introduction:

It is estimated that between 1450 and 1500, during the struggle for the crown between the Houses of York and Lancaster, 62 of England’s lords and their heirs were slain. Of the 44 noble ladies who were left as widows, 21 remarried.

This is the story of two of those women, Kate and Elysabeth, whose husbands fought on opposing sides. Kate was the sister of the earl known in history as “Warwick the Kingmaker” and Elysabeth became very famous in her own right.

This will be another welcome addition to Isolde’s portraits of medieval England. Each is eminently readable as fiction, excellent for accurate research – andlet’s give a huge plus for the lists of the historically correct characters (a minimum of invented names for lesser ones) and a glossary of medieval terms.

Mistress to the Crown, published by Mira, rrp $25, ISBN 978 1743560211, soon available in a smaller paperback edition.

The Devil in Ermine, an e-book available for Kindle or from Amazon Print on Demand. ISBN: 0-9873 8469-0; ISBN-13: 978-098738460-0-7.

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