Today’s man is someone I’ve had a secret passion for since I was around eleven years old.
I was at home, sick, and I picked up a copy of The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. In it, Inspector Alan Grant is dying of boredom and driving his friends crazy, as a result. He has a broken leg, you see, and – as with Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window – it lesds him to all sorts of curiosities. A friend of his (Alan Grant’s, not Jimmy Stewart’s) gives him a hodgepodge of items, one of which is a copy of a portrait of Richard III.
Only Grant, who felt he could make accurate judgments of a person’s character simply by looking at their faces, can’t believe that Richard was the monster that English schoolchildren had been raised to believe he was. The Richard of the portrait, according to Grant, was kind and generous.
In order to prove his point, he sets his friends to researching contemporary writings about Richard and his poor, murdered nephews. And in so doing, he proves that Richard has been wronged by History. (And by Shakespeare, which probably amounts to the same thing.)
The tragic tale of the misjudged king touched my preadolescent heart (and ignited my always-overactive desire to see justice done, nearly 500 years later). It also led to my predilection for tortured heroes, most recently finding expression in my Snape obsession. But we won’t go there.
One completely bizarre coincidence… many years later, my mother was doing the family tree. And she traced my dad’s family back way beyond the 15th century, but it’s what she found there that is pertinent. I’m descended from Thomas Stanley, later Earl of Derby, who betrayed Richard on the field of battle in favor of his stepson, Henry Tudor. In so doing, he turned the tide of the battle against Richard, leading to the king’s death and the rise of the Tudors to the throne of England.
Yes, I do feel guilty. How did you guess?
P.S. If you can get your hands on The Daughter of Time, read it! It’s widely held to be one of the best mystery stories ever written, and I concur!