"One of the best mysteries of all time" (The New York Times)—Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard.
Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.
The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.
About the Author
Josephine Tey began writing full-time after the successful publication of her first novel, The Man in the Queue (1929), which introduced Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard. She died in 1952, leaving her entire estate to the National Trust.
Read an Excerpt
Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart every last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it. He hated the sight of it.
He had suggested to The Midget that she might turn his bed around a little so that he could have a new patch of ceiling to explore. But it seemed that that would spoil the symmetry of the room, and in hospitals symmetry ranked just a short head behind cleanliness and a whole length in front of Godliness. Anything out of the parallel was hospital profanity. Why didn't he read? she asked. Why didn't he go on reading some of those expensive brand-new novels that his friends kept on bringing him?
"There are far too many people born into the world, and far too many words written. Millions and millions of them pouring from the presses every minute. It's a horrible thought."
"You sound constipated," said The Midget.
The Midget was Nurse Ingham, and she was in sober fact a very nice five-feet-two, with everything in just proportion. Grant called her The Midget to compensate himself for being bossed around by a piece of Dresden china which he could pick up in one hand. When he was on his feet, this is to say. It was not only that she told him what he might or might not do, but she dealt with his six-feet-odd with an off-hand ease that Grant found humiliating. Weights meant nothing, apparently, to The Midget. She tossed mattresses around with the absent-minded grace of a plate spinner. When she was off duty he was attended to by The Amazon, a goddess with arms like the limb of a beech tree. The Amazon was Nurse Darroll, who came from Gloucestershire and was homesick each daffodil season. (The Midget came from Lytham St. Anne's, and there was no daffodil nonsense about her.) She had large soft hands and large soft cow's eyes and she always looked very sorry for you, but the slightest physical exertion set her breathing like a suction-pump. On the whole Grant found it even more humiliating to be treated as a dead weight than to be treated as if he were no weight at all.
Grant was bed-borne, and a charge on The Midget and The Amazon, because he had fallen through a trap-door. This, of course, was the absolute in humiliation; compared with which the heavings of The Amazon and the light slingings of The Midget were a mere corollary. To fall through a trap-door was the ultimate in absurdity; pantomimic, bathetic, grotesque. At the moment of his disappearance from the normal level of perambulation he had been in hot pursuit of Benny Skoll, and the fact that Benny had careened round the next corner slap into the arms of Sergeant Williams provided the one small crumb of comfort in an intolerable situation.
Benny was now "away" for three years, which was very satisfactory for the lieges, but Benny would get time off for good behaviour. In hospitals there was no time off for good behaviour.
Grant stopped staring at the ceiling, and slid his eyes sideways at the pile of books on his bedside table; the gay expensive pile that The Midget had been urging on his attention. The top one, with the pretty picture of Valetta in unlikely pink, was Lavinia Fitch's annual account of a blameless heroine's tribulations. In view of the representation of the Grand Harbour on the cover, the present Valerie or Angela or Cecile or Denise must be a naval wife. He had opened the book only to read the kind message that Lavinia had written inside.
The Sweat and the Furrow was Silas Weekley being earthly and spade-conscious all over seven hundred pages. The situation, to judge from the first paragraph, had not materially changed since Silas's last book: mother lying-in with her eleventh upstairs, father laid-out after his ninth downstairs, eldest son lying to the Government in the cow-shed, eldest daughter lying with her lover in the hayloft, everyone else lying low in the barn. The rain dripped from the thatch, and the manure steamed in the midden. Silas never omitted the manure. It was not Silas's fault that its steam provided the only uprising element in the picture. If Silas could have discovered a brand of steam that steamed downwards, Silas would have introduced it.
Under the harsh shadows and highlights of Silas's jacket was an elegant affair of Edwardian curlicues and Baroque nonsense, entitled Bells on Her Toes. Which was Rupert Rouge being arch about vice. Rupert Rouge always seduced you into laughter for the first three pages. About Page Three you noticed that Rupert had learned from that very arch (but of course not vicious) creature George Bernard Shaw that the easiest way to sound witty was to use that cheap and convenient method, the paradox. After that you could see the jokes coming three sentences away.
The thing with a red gun-flash across a night-green cover was Oscar Oakley's latest. Toughs talking out of the corners of their mouths in synthetic American that had neither the wit nor the pungency of the real thing. Blondes, chromium bars, breakneck chases. Very remarkably bunk.
The Case of the Missing Tin-Opener, by John James Mark, had three errors of procedure in the first two pages, and had at least provided Grant with a pleasant five minutes while he composed an imaginary letter to its author.
He could not remember what the thin blue book at the bottom of the pile was. Something earnest and statistical, he thought. Tsetse flies, or calories, or sex behaviour, or something.
Even in that, you knew what to expect on the next page. Did no one, any more, no one in all this wide world, change their record now and then? Was everyone nowadays thirled to a formula? Authors today wrote so much to a pattern that their public expected it. The public talked about "a new Silas Weekley" or "a new Lavinia Fitch" exactly as they talked about "a new brick" or "a new hairbrush." They never said "a new book by" whoever it might be. Their interest was not in the book but in its newness. They knew quite well what the book would be like.
It might be a good thing, Grant thought as he turned his nauseated gaze away from the motley pile, if all the presses of the world were stopped for a generation. There ought to be a literary moratorium. Some Superman ought to invent a ray that would stop them all simultaneously. Then people wouldn't send you a lot of fool nonsense when you were flat on your back, and bossy bits of Meissen wouldn't expect you to read them.
He heard the door open, but did not stir himself to look. He had turned his face to the wall, literally and metaphorically.
He heard someone come across to his bed, and closed his eyes against possible conversation. He wanted neither Gloucestershire sympathy nor Lancashire briskness just now. In the succeeding pause a faint enticement, a nostalgic breath of all the fields of Grasse, teased his nostrils and swam about his brain. He savoured it and considered. The Midget smelt of lavender dusting powder, and The Amazon of soap and iodoform. What was floating expensively about his nostrils was L'Enclos Numéro Cinq. Only one person of his acquaintance used L'Enclos Number Five. Marta Hallard.
He opened an eye and squinted up at her. She had evidently bent over to see if he was asleep, and was now standing in an irresolute way if anything Marta did could be said to be irresolute with her attention on the heap of all too obviously virgin publications on the table. In one arm she was carrying two new books, and in the other a great sheaf of white lilac. He wondered whether she had chosen white lilac because it was her idea of the proper floral offering for winter (it adorned her dressing-room at the theatre from December to March) or whether she had taken it because it would not detract from her black-and-white chic. She was wearing a new hat and her usual pearls; the pearls which he had once been the means of recovering for her. She looked very handsome, very Parisian, and blessedly unhospital-like.
"Did I waken you, Alan?"
"No. I wasn't asleep."
"I seem to be bringing the proverbial coals," she said, dropping the two books alongside their despised brethren. "I hope you will find these more interesting than you seem to have found that lot. Didn't you even try a little teensy taste of our Lavinia?"
"I can't read anything."
"Are you in pain?"
"Agony. But it's neither my leg nor my back."
"It's what my cousin Laura calls 'the prickles of boredom.'"
"Poor Alan. And how right your Laura is." She picked a bunch of narcissi out of a glass that was much too large for them, dropped them with one of her best gestures into the washbasin, and proceeded to substitute the lilac. "One would expect boredom to be a great yawning emotion, but it isn't, of course. It's a small niggling thing."
"Small nothing. It's like being beaten with nettles."
"Why don't you take up something?"
"Improve the shining hour?"
"Improve your mind. To say nothing of your soul and your temper. You might study one of the philosophies. Yoga, or something like that. But I suppose an analytical mind is not the best kind to bring to the consideration of the abstract."
"I did think of going back to algebra. I have an idea that I never did algebra justice, at school. But I've done so much geometry on that damned ceiling that I'm a little off mathematics."
"Well, I suppose it is no use suggesting jig-saws to someone in your position. How about cross-words. I could get you a book of them, if you like."
"You could invent them, of course. I have heard that that is more fun than solving them."
"Perhaps. But a dictionary weighs several pounds. Besides, I always did hate looking up something in a reference book."
"Do you play chess? I don't remember. How about chess problems? White to play and mate in three moves, or something like that."
"My only interest in chess is pictorial."
"Very decorative things, knights and pawns and whatnot. Very elegant."
"Charming. I could bring you along a set to play with. All right, no chess. You could do some academic investigating. That's a sort of mathematics. Finding a solution to an unsolved problem."
"Crime, you mean? I know all the case-histories by heart. And there is nothing more that can be done about any of them. Certainly not by someone who is flat on his back."
"I didn't mean something out of the files at the Yard. I meant something more what's the word? something classic. Something that has puzzled the world for ages."
"As what, for instance?"
"Say, the casket letters."
"Oh, not Mary Queen of Scots!"
"Why not?" asked Marta, who like all actresses saw Mary Stuart through a haze of white veils.
"I could be interested in a bad woman but never in a silly one."
"Silly?" said Marta in her best lower-register Electra voice.
"Oh, Alan, how can you!"
"If she had worn another kind of headdress no one would ever have bothered about her. It's that cap that seduces people."
"You think she would have loved less greatly in a sunbonnet?"
"She never loved greatly at all, in any kind of bonnet."
Marta looked as scandalised as a lifetime in the theatre and an hour of careful make-up allowed her to.
"Why do you think that?"
"Mary Stuart was six feet tall. Nearly all out-size women are sexually cold. Ask any doctor."
And as he said it he wondered why, in all the years since Marta had first adopted him as a spare escort when she needed one, it had not occurred to him to wonder whether her notorious level-headedness about men had something to do with her inches. But Marta had not drawn any parallels; her mind was still on her favourite queen.
"At least she was a martyr. You'll have to allow her that."
"Martyr to what?"
"The only thing she was a martyr to was rheumatism. She married Darnley without the Pope's dispensation, and Bothwell by Protestant rites."
"In a moment you'll be telling me she wasn't a prisoner!"
"The trouble with you is that you think of her in a little room at the top of a castle, with bars on the windows and a faithful old attendant to share her prayers with her. In actual fact she had a personal household of sixty persons. She complained bitterly when it was reduced to a beggarly thirty, and nearly died of chagrin when it was reduced to two male secretaries, several women, an embroiderer, and a cook or two. And Elizabeth had to pay for all that out of her own purse. For twenty years she paid, and for twenty years Mary Stuart hawked the crown of Scotland round Europe to anyone who would start a revolution and put her back on the throne that she had lost; or, alternatively, on the one Elizabeth was sitting on."
He looked at Marta and found that she was smiling.
"Are they a little better now?" she asked.
"Are what better?"
"Yes. For a whole minute I had forgotten about them. That is at least one good thing to put down to Mary Stuart's account!"
"How do you know so much about Mary?"
"I did an essay about her in my last year at school."
"And didn't like her, I take it."
"Didn't like what I found out about her."
"You don't think her tragic, then."
"Oh, yes, very. But not tragic in any of the ways that popular belief makes her tragic. Her tragedy was that she was born a queen with the outlook of a suburban housewife. Scoring off Mrs. Tudor in the next street is harmless and amusing; it may lead you into unwarrantable indulgence in hire-purchase, but it affects only yourself. When you use the same technique on kingdoms the result is disastrous. If you are willing to put a country of ten million people in pawn in order to score off a royal rival, then you end by being a friendless failure." He lay thinking about it for a little. "She would have been a wild success as a mistress at a girls' school."
"I meant it nicely. The staff would have liked her, and all the little girls would have adored her. That is what I meant about her being tragic."
"Ah, well. No casket letters, it seems. What else is there? The Man in the Iron Mask?"
"I can't remember who that was, but I couldn't be interested in anyone who was being coy behind some tinplate. I couldn't be interested in anyone at all unless I could see his face."
"Ah, yes. I forgot your passion for faces. The Borgias had wonderful faces. I should think they would provide a little mystery or two for you to dabble in if you looked them up. Or there was Perkin Warbeck, of course. Imposture is always fascinating. Was he or wasn't he? A lovely game. The balance can never come down wholly on one side or the other. You push it over and up it comes again, like one of those weighted toys."
The door opened and Mrs. Tinker's homely face appeared in the aperture surmounted by her still more homely and historic hat. Mrs. Tinker had worn the same hat since first she began to "do" for Grant, and he could not imagine her in any other. That she did possess another one he knew, because it went with something that she referred to as "me blue." Her "blue" was an occasional affair, in both senses, and never appeared at 19 Tenby Court. It was worn with a ritualistic awareness, and having been worn it was used in the event as a yardstick by which to judge the proceedings. ("Did you enjoy it, Tink? What was it like?" "Not worth putting on me blue for.") She had worn it to Princess Elizabeth's wedding, and to various other royal functions, and had indeed figured in it for two flashing seconds in a newsreel shot of the Duchess of Kent cutting a ribbon, but to Grant it was a mere report; a criterion of the social worth of an occasion. A thing was or was not worth putting on "me blue" for.
"I 'eard you 'ad a visitor," said Mrs. Tinker, "and I was all set to go away again when I thought the voice sounded familiar like, and I says to meself: 'It's only Miss Hallard,' I says, so I come in."
She was carrying various paper bags and a small tight bunch of anemones. She greeted Marta as woman to woman, having been in her time a dresser and having therefore no exaggerated reverence for the goddesses of the theatre world, and looked askance at the beautiful arrangement of lilac sprays that had blossomed under Marta's ministrations. Marta did not see the glance but she saw the little bunch of anemones and took over the situation as if it were something already rehearsed.
"I squander my vagabond's hire on white lilac for you, and then Mrs. Tinker puts my nose out of joint by bringing you the Lilies of the Field."
"Lilies?" said Mrs. Tinker, doubtfully.
"Those are the Solomon in all his glory things. The ones that toiled not, neither did they spin."
Mrs. Tinker went to church only for weddings and christenings, but she belonged to a generation that had been sent to Sunday school. She looked with a new interest at the little handful of glory incased by her woollen glove.
"Well, now. I never knew that. Makes more sense that way, don't it? I always pictured them arums. Fields and fields of arums. Awful expensive, you know, but a bit depressing. So they was coloured? Well, why can't they say so? What do they have to call them lilies for!"
And they went on to talk about translation, and how misleading Holy Writ could be ("I always wondered what bread on the waters was," Mrs. Tinker said) and the awkward moment was over.
While they were still busy with the Bible, The Midget came in with extra flower vases. Grant noticed that the vases were designed to hold white lilac and not anemones. They were tribute to Marta; a passport to further communing. But Marta never bothered about women unless she had an immediate use for them; her tack with Mrs. Tinker had been mere savoir faire; a conditioned reflex. So The Midget was reduced to being functional instead of social. She collected the discarded narcissi from the washbasin and meekly put them back into a vase. The Midget being meek was the most beautiful sight that had gladdened Grant's eyes for a long time.
"Well," Marta said, having finished her arrangement of the lilac and placed the result where he could see it, "I shall leave Mrs. Tinker to feed you all the titbits out of those paper bags. It couldn't be, could it, Mrs. Tinker darling, that one of those bags contains any of your wonderful bachelor's buttons?"
Mrs. Tinker glowed.
"You'd like one or two maybe? Fresh outa me oven?"
"Well, of course I shall have to do penance for it afterwards those little rich cakes are death on the waist but just give me a couple to put in my bag for my tea at the theatre."
She chose two with a flattering deliberation ("I like them a little brown at the edges"), dropped them into her handbag, and said: "Well, au revoir, Alan. I shall look in, in a day or two, and start you on a sock. There is nothing so soothing, I understand, as knitting. Isn't that so, Nurse?"
"Oh, yes, indeed. A lot of my gentlemen patients take to knitting. They find it whiles away the time very nicely."
Marta blew him a kiss from the door and was gone, followed by the respectful Midget.
"I'd be surprised if that hussy is any better than she ought to be," Mrs. Tinker said, beginning to open the paper bags. She was not referring to Marta.
Copyright 1951 by Elizabeth MacKintosh
Copyright renewed © 1979 by R. S. Lantham
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Mystery Writers of America rank this book as the 4th greatest mystery of all time. After you read it, you’ll wonder why it isn’t number one. Alan Grant is a police detective convalescing in the hospital and bored out of his mind. In an attempt to distract Grant, his theatrical friend brings him a group of historical portraits and they play a little game to see what the police detective can figure out about the character of these people by looking at their faces. Do they belong in the dock as an accused villain on trial or on the bench as a judge? Grant is shocked when he places the notorious English King Richard III on the bench and his categorization causes him to try and learn more about the English King whom history tells us murdered his two nephews to secure his hold on the throne. Yet the historical accounts immediately begin to frustrate Grant. They are filled with propaganda and hearsay evidence. Modern historians riddle their accounts of the reign with contradictory assessments of Richard’s character and often ignore the implications of his documentable actions. Grant, with his policeman’s eye, begins to cut through the forests of hearsay and to compile the actual evidence of the crime. He looks at motives and who benefits from the acts. And he eventually, reluctantly, comes to the conclusion that the two princes survived Richard’s short reign meaning that someone else murdered them. He even goes so far as to convincingly identify a more probable murderer—the man who killed off the rest of the York claimants to the English throne—Henry Tudor. This is a brilliant book and a wonderful detective story that teaches an important lesson in the power of public perception. I regret that I can only give this novel five stars.
"Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority," said Sir Francis Bacon. In Josephine Tey's 1950s novel, The Daughter of Time, truth is that which Scotland Yard inspector, Alan Grant, has often searched after and found in the faces of criminals. Now he's laid up in hospital with an injury, and thoroughly bored. Friends try to cheer him with images of famous criminals, but it's the face of King Richard III that intrigues him, a man who looks more like he belongs on the bench than in the dock. Did Richard really kill the princes in the tower, as English history books have said, or has time made a mockery of truth? Our book group chose this novel to fit the classic and mystery genres, both of which it does well. I was surprised how easily it read and how quickly it absorbed my interest; the dialog is delightfully real, well-accented, diverse and amusing; the characters are fun; the tone is an intriguing mixture of erudite and down-to-earth; and the history lessons are spot-on. By the end of the book I'm thinking I might learn to treat history with the same sort of doubt as newspaper accounts, and perhaps that's no bad thing. Add to this the fact that I've seen that picture of King Richard III and thought, as does the inspector, that he appears quite a pleasing character, and you'll know why this book was so hard to put down. I enjoyed the author's scorn for "boring" history, her delight in seeking contemporary corroboration, and her amusing comments on books in general. But most of all I enjoyed a really good read, with a really neat, absorbing mystery at its core. Disclosure: I bought this to read with the book group then missed the meeting. I do hope the other members enjoyed the story as much as I did.
The story starts well, and Josephine Tey's use of language is a joy to read. The premise is also fun and intriguing - how much can we tell from a face? And if we trust that perception, where will it take us? The middle gets a bit bogged down in historical detail. But overall, a very good read.
My favorite mystery book
Ground-breaking in its day, and still a fun read.
One of the finest mystery novels ever concocted is Josephine Tey's 'The Daughter of Time.' Inspector Grant is injured from a previous case and is in a hospital bed when a friend brings him some pictures of people from history and one is particularly striking in a positive way. But the reverse side identifies the face as that of Richard III, the greatest villain in English history. Grant, whose professional success depends on knowing a person by his face, cannot believe he could have been so mistaken and recruits his nurses, friends, fellow policemen, and even a young American researcher to bring him all they can about the Great Mystery of 'who murdered the princes in the tower.' Little by little, the case against Richard falls to pieces; while the evidence begins to point in the most surprising direction. The wonderful thing about this novel is how it shows that so much of what we consider 'history' is merely a pack of lies devised by the winning teams to blacken the opposition and whitewash themselves. The incident at 'Tonypandy,' for example, is made much of in this novel. You will not believe how easily the 'official version' of that incident was accepted, even by people who were there. For a thorough enjoyment of this novel, you really need to be fairly familiar with Shakespeare's 'Richard III.' Now bear in mind that the playwright got his information from 'Holinshed's Chronicles,' which got its information from authors paid by the king who had defeated Richard III in battle, who got most of their information from one of Richard's deadliest enemies. One might as well accept 'Mein Kampf' as an objective look at Germany during the years between World Wars. Reading this book, in fact, will change your entire attitude toward anything you read in any book or periodical that claims to present 'the facts.' I will not ruin your enjoyment of this book by pointing out how Grant weighs the evidence that been accepted for so long as 'true' and comes to the conclusions he does. Now the really Good News is that we have a wonderful recording of this complete text on a set of four Audio Partners tapes. Better yet, let me tell you it is read by Derek Jacobi--or better still, acted out by Derek Jacobi, because he finds a new voice for each character, the American being the best of the lot. Richard III might be a great villain on stage, but I firmly believe that the historical Richard deserves to have his case for the defense heard as often as possible. If for no other reason than to remind us of how many collections of 'historical facts' might be little more than an imaginative treatment to bolster one's cause or downgrade another's. History, which is the Daughter of Time by the way, is written by the winners. It takes a good author like Tey to plead the case for the loser.
My personal impression of this book was relatively positive; I thought it was well-written with a clever plot and idea. I recommend this book, for it was fairly easy to understand as a history novel, and definitely a short read. I have only read this one book by Josephine Tey, so I was unfamiliar with the characters from the Alan Grant series, but within the first chapter I was able to depict the characters and their relationship. Considering the fact that this book was a history novel, I thought that it had a satisfying amount of action, also remembering that the main character of the book is bed-ridden. The historical information and references are also very useful, especially to one who has not studied the English government during this time period very much in depth. But this also could present a problem; it was sometimes difficult to keep names straight despite the family tree in the beginning of the book. For this reason, the book was slightly more difficult. Overall, it was an informative and interesting read. The author fully completes her purpose of this book: to factually inform readers of the Princes in the Tower with an interesting and dynamic plot. She was able to get her point across through a fiction novel where the main character is bed-ridden, yet researches the subject of the two Princes. By having the main character learn new information, readers were able to also absorb this and learn. Josephine Tey is able to inform and entertain simultaneously.
I am a mystery fan, but I do not like violence, so this was right up my alley! I like to read some of the older writers to get a glimpse into the past and what was mysterious to them in their day. Refreshing to read a good mystery that doesn't make me want to lock my doors and windows at night!
'The Daughter of Time' is a wonderful book but not without its difficulties. A detective with a broken leg is forced to spend weeks in traction in the hospital and to pass the time decides to solve an historical question: Did King Richard III really kill his two young nephews, as is the common assumption? Traditional histories are motivated by politics and emotion and tend to flatter or condemn, and then those errors are perpetuated down through the centuries. Everything the detective reads--from a children's schoolbook to Sir Thomas More--portrays Richard III as a vicious hunchback and poor administrator who had his nephews slaughtered for no good reason, but contemporaneous accounts reveal that none of that is likely to be true. So Tey's detective alter ego chucks the 'great man' approach to history in favor of what could be called social history, using things like diary entries, military dispatches, midwives' notes and the like to ascertain where people were situated and how they lived. The combination of bedside sleuthing (literally) and the deductive power of a skilled police detective makes for a fascinating read. The drawback for Americans in reading 'The Daughter of Time' is that we're expected to bring some working knowledge of the 15th Century Wars of the Roses (the Yorks and the Lancasters) to our understanding of British history, and a good working knowledge of royal succession is a help, too (although the book does furnish a helpful geneological table). When this book was discussed at a readers' circle in the Midwest, several people disliked it simply because they disliked British royalty--the Midwest being the most Anglophobic region of the United States. But that's their problem, not yours.
This was our other evening book and was fascinating in every way. I had read it years ago and loved it¿it has not paled with time. Tey's series detective, Alan Grant, is laid up for several weeks because of an on the job injury and is thoroughly bored. A friend brings him a picture of Richard III and he becomes intrigued how such a saintly looking face could belong to such a villainous person. With the help of a young American who likes researching at the British Museum Grant decides to use his investigative skills to solve the mystery of the princes in the Tower. He comes to a surprising solution and offers compelling evidence for his conclusions. The story is not only satisfying but also gives insight into how history is ¿made.¿The title comes from a quotation by Francis Bacon:¿For truth is rightly named the daughter of time, not of authority.¿
The premise of this book is that Inspector Grant is hospitalized after a fall when he becomes fascinated with a portrait of King Richard III. The face in the picture strikes him as someone who "belongs on the bench, not in the dock" and, over the weeks of his convalescence, he tries to solve the mystery of who really murdered the two princes. The resulting blend of mystery with historical fiction fascinated me; I couldn't wait to get back to the book. Most creditable historians acknowledge that there is no way to determine a clear culprit...there are problems with each of the major suspects...and the weighing of this factor versus that one draws the reader into this spirited debate. Tey's presentation is a little skewed in that she does not mention a couple of facts that are unexplained by what has become known as the "Markham/Tey" position but, as a story, the whole progression of analysis is convincing to the reader.I've enjoyed all of Tey's books but, as a fan of historical tales, this is probably my favorite to date.This was an audio book and I found the reader, Derek Jacobi, absolutely wonderful. I'd pick up something else he narrates in a heartbeat.
Okay, I'll admit, the English history had me completely lost, but the telling of it, and the contemporary characters had me utterly charmed. I listened to the audio of this one, and the narrator, Derek Jacobi, was mostly fantastic, however his attempt at an American accent for one character was a bit of a travesty. I have a feeling I will love reading more of Tey's work, especially where a detailed knowledge of the Enlgish monarchy isn't quite so crucial.
The subject is interesting, but the book itself is bad. 1950's "psychology" does not constitute evidence and it is a fact that people are prone to behave in odd and inconsistent ways, especially mediaeval people. Of course, Richard III is an interesting historical figure and quite possibly much maligned. However, the misunderstood and heroic figure brought down in his prime by the base persons all around him is itself a convention; Gibbon's description of the reign of the Emperor Julian is an excellent example.The modern characters are, without exception, insufferable.
What a delight! I have never read any of Josephine Tey¿s books but have seen glowing reviews here on LT. I stumbled across this audio book at my local library and decided to give it a try during my drive from Dallas to Houston. Never has I-45 passed by so quickly¿Daughter of Time is not a traditional mystery. It is the story of a Scotland Yard detective who is laid up in the hospital after an injury and who, in an effort to alleviate the boredom of being bed-ridden, begins a historical investigation into King Richard III of England. Richard is widely believed to have had his two nephews killed in order to secure the throne for himself. A detailed explanation of all the political and familial machinations would be too difficult to attempt here, and some of it was a bit difficult to follow on audio (had I been reading the book, I would have been flipping back a lot). But Tey does a wonderful job of elucidating the situation and laying out the evidence.There is very little action in this book, but it¿s filled with wonderfully-drawn characters and sharp dialogue. Highly recommended for fans of mysteries, history, or just darn-good stories.
When I was young I was deeply impressed by this book and believed its argument for Richard III's innocence. I still think it is beautifully written and gets across the excitement of historical research very well, but having done professional research on Richard III I believe the evidence strongly favors the view that he wrongfully usurped the throne and in all probability eliminated the princes, though I concede there is no "smoking dagger."
A re-read of an old favorite. Very clever "arm-chair mystery".
We read this while reading Shakespeare's "Richard III" because the book questions whether Richard is in fact innocent of killing the boys in the tower (we later used it to help provide evidence for a mock trial of Richard). I thought it was pretty convincing that Richard was innocent (so much so that I joined the Richard prosecution because I thought it would be harder). It's definitely a good source for a mock trial.
A great history lesson disguised as an all-time classic mystery. Written in 1951, it holds its place as one of the original historical mysteries, after a fashion, that became all the rage after The Name of the Rose. A quick 200 pages, probably could be less as this edition has a very generous font size.
Over the years, one learns all sorts of pieces of trivia that may or may not be true, just from being in the culture, or hearing bits and pieces of common knowledge in discussions, or getting fed the received wisdom in history classes or children's stories. In most cases, the story is more complex, and some of the time, the story's just wrong. That's the point of Tey's book, largely: you should be more inquisitive and find out whether the world is what it looks like.Her particular illustration comes through the personage of Inspector Alan Grant, in the hospital after falling through a trap door while trapping a criminal, looking into historical mysteries, since he can't go out chasing down new ones. An actress friend of his brings him a picture of Richard III, and he falls into the question of what happened to Richard's two young nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Common belief holds that Richard killed the two boys to help cement his hold on the throne. Grant starts off with the feeling that the man in the picture doesn't look like a criminal, and then starts investigating the crime from his bed, with the help of his nurses, friends, and an American researcher that becomes attached to the story, as well.Since this is a mystery, I won't discuss the twists and turns of the story, but I will say that I found it an engrossing read, with an acerbic tone to the writing and interesting characters. Even the explanation of the historical research, which could have been quite dry, comes across as lively. Digging into who the historic players were, and how people actually work versus how we sometimes think of them through the filter of many years, as paper cutouts who just did what they did. That's Tey's real triumph here; you can see the people, both in the story's present and in the past, as real and sympathetic.This is the best mystery I've read in a while, and it's helped by the unusual format of searching through history. This one's highly recommended.
Read for book club. Really struggled with the Royal family history, mind numbing. Makes me question the acuracy of all history.
This was a very clever and very well written little book. It felt much more urgent than a bed-ridden, amateur historian driven tale should have, and was much more exciting than I expected. That takes a lot of talent.
Beautifully written, and one of those books which can be read and re-read, even though the ending is not a surprise. I enjoy the characters (I don't think they wear well in other books by the same author), and the picture of historical research and how things are figured out.
In my top 5 books of all time. Sparked a love of British history for me.
If I'd not already know what this book was about, I might have struggled with it. I think I would have been waiting for the 'inevitable' body to drop and the 'real' story to begin for a fair while, before realizing all this Richard III discussion *was* the mystery. Since that wasn't the case, and being a history buff, I was already anticipating and enjoyed following the research and speculation. The trouble is, research and speculation is all this book appears to be. Normally a mystery novel lays its clues, then a startling conclusion is drawn, followed by the denouement in which the two ends are tied together. That tried-and-true structure works because it supports action and suspense. Here we simply have a series of linked readings, with the characters reacting. This novel is recognized for breaking out of the typical mystery mould, but if in doing so it can't supplant what makes the mould work then I'm not sure it was a good idea. There's hardly any plot to speak of in "The Daughter of Time", nothing at stake for Detective Grant besides escape from boredom. If my sympathies were meant to be won for Richard III, thus producing suspense over whether he could be exonerated, it didn't work.I'm curious what prompted this story. The cynic in me says the author simply had a passing interest in Richard III at the same time as she was scouting about for a mystery plot. Looking deeper, I might guess she was out to demonstrate the false face of history by citing examples of 'tonypandy' and tackling Richard's story by way of example, effectively framing the novel's conflict as "man vs history". My interest *was* sparked in seeing a detective's mind applied to an historian's process. Historical research (done correctly) ought to be a bit like detective work, after all, and the novel supports this argument convincingly.The writing is fine enough. It's a worthwhile read if you like unearthing historical mysteries, or you have a particular interest in the War of the Roses, but as a novel per se I don't feel it's worth going out of your way for.
I've read a lot of mystery fiction. Certainly Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy Sayers are all favorites, but if I had to name my top favorite author in the genre, it would be Josephine Tey, and not just for this book. All are excellent--she sadly wasn't prolific, only 8 mystery novels, and most have not just twists, but an emotional impact I find lacking with say Christie.And if I had to name a favorite Tey, or just a favorite mystery novel, The Daughter of Time would be at the top. First of all, because this is a true crime--one over 400 years old. Unlike the usual historical mystery, however, this one isn't set in the past. Tey's detective Inspector Alan Grant is stuck in bed in the hospital, bored. A friend tries to divert him by bringing in portraits connected with classic murders. Grant believes that given his experience, he can judge character from a face, and is surprised when looking at Richard III's portrait he sees in the dead king a sober judge, not the kind who'd face one in the dock--and certainly not the deformed monster of Shakespeare.So, with the help of an American graduate student doing the research, Alan Grant solves the murder of the Two Princes in the Tower from his bed--and in the process strips away the Richard III you thought you knew from Shakespeare and Vincent Price. He does so using real life clues. Even if I have read later Tey didn't entirely play fair, ignoring a historical point or two that would complicate her solution, it's still a mind-bending and thought-provoking mystery, not just about one possible historical injustice, but about how so much of history becomes distorted by partisan-tailored versions. And the book is written with a sense of humor and affection for its characters I found very winning. Don't stop with this book though. Try the rest by Tey. Although I'd be hard put trying to pick what you should read next--and they all feel very different from each other--none of the others deal with history at all. If forced, I'd say read Miss Pym Disposes next--it features a twist that doesn't just amaze like Christie, it wrenches.