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The Daughter of Time (1951)

by Josephine Tey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alan Grant Mysteries (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,7971901,578 (3.97)2 / 621
Confined to a hospital bed, Scotland Yard's Inspector Grant reconsiders 500-year-old evidence and brilliantly arrives at a compelling new answer to one of the most intriguing mysteries in history-- who really murdered the young princes who were imprisoned in the Tower of London?
Recently added bycatcarlo, Arina40, carmsoc, Danica12, Marytudor, vikinga, mamarracq, private library
Legacy LibrariesEdward Estlin Cummings
  1. 111
    The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman (LisaMaria_C)
    LisaMaria_C: For me The Daughter of Time and The Sunne in Splendour go hand in hand. The first is the classic mystery "solving" the mystery of the Two Princes in the Tower and the second a sympathetic biographical novel of Richard III which is well-researched and moving.… (more)
  2. 90
    The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters (Cynara)
    Cynara: Both books are, broadly speaking, mysteries debunking the popular misconceptions around Richard III; Tey's book is entirely concerned with the subject, and Peters' does so as a sort of subplot, in addition to a more traditional mystery. I'd suggest reading Tey first, as her mystery has less to offer once you've read Peters.… (more)
  3. 61
    The Wench is Dead by Colin Dexter (Cynara)
    Cynara: Two hospitalised detectives work through historical mysteries, investigating from their cots. Tey's is the more famous work, and will give you a good education on the ins and outs of the rehabilitation of Richard III, but to my mind, Dexter's book is better.
  4. 50
    Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall (myshelves)
    myshelves: Biography
  5. 62
    The Tragedy of Richard the Third by William Shakespeare (bookwoman247)
    bookwoman247: This is a mystery involving Richard III and the two princes in the tower, and seems to have garnered a bit of respect. It's a great read on its own, and would make a great companion read to Shakespeare's Richard III.
  6. 30
    We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (Imprinted, KayCliff)
  7. 31
    Royal Blood: King Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes by Bertram Fields (inge87)
  8. 10
    The Black Tower by Louis Bayard (bjappleg8)
    bjappleg8: Both novels use detectives to explore historical mysteries surrounding princes banished to towers and whose fates can never be known for certain.
  9. 00
    Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty by Anne Crawford (KayCliff)
  10. 00
    The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon (shaunie)
    shaunie: The detective solves the crime whilst bedridden in both. Both also somewhat overrated?
1950s (47)
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English (187)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (189)
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
4.5 stars ( )
  natcontrary | Jun 22, 2020 |

I re-read Josephine Tey’s 1951 novel, ‘The Daughter Of Time’ as part of a buddy read on BookLikes, so I shared my thoughts as I went along. I’ve structured this review to give my overall impression and then included the impressions I had as I read through the book.

Overall Impression



Set in 1951, 'The Daughter Of Time' is an investigation of whether or not Richard III was the monster our history books say he was. It is carried out by a Inspector in the Metropolitan Police who takes up the investigation to relieve his boredom while at being confined to a hospital bed, flat on his back, while he recovers from an injury. Richard catches his attention because the detective prides himself on his ability to read faces and is chagrined to find that, without knowing his name, he has classed Richar as being 'on the bench' rather than 'in the dock'.

'The Daughter Of Time' is remarkable for being entertaining, humorous, occasionally suspenseful and never overtly didactic, while delivering a serious insight into the way myths are created, peddled as history and become part of the national identity through the indoctrination of young children via the use of simple, memorable, emphatic 'true-stories'. It shows how, once embedded in this way, these stories become unassailable, not because they cannot be disproved but because we have built them into our own story and will not easily give them up for that would be like pulling on a loose thread, once you start, there's no telling what might be undone.

It's also remarkable for twisting the novel form to its purpose. 'The Daughter Of Time' is close to being a play, especially if you include Shaw's plays with their lengthy stage directions and off-stage character insights. It depends almost entirely on dialogue. Yet who would watch a play with only one set, with all the physical action being off-stage and most of the passion happening inside the head of disgruntled, immobile Police Inspector? Well, actually, a lot of people, if you think of the success on The Weet End and Broadway of 'Whose Life Is It Anyway' twenty years later.

It's a novel that is hard to classify other than under the categories like 'Original', 'Innovative' and 'Bold' - all of which are terms that were used by the Englsh Civil Service to warn of a need for caution.

It could have been written with the three goals enshrined in the BBC's charter in mind: 'To inform, to educate and to entertain.'

It must have been well ahead of its time when it was published in 1951. Now, it's a step away from the programs that the BBC make where a photogenic historian, usually a woman with long red hair and an impeccable upper class accent or a long-haired charismatic Scotsman, speak to camera from visually impressive historical locations, interspersed with actors in period costumes glowering at one another and miming out the actions the photogenic historian's voice-over is describing.

As a novel, it doesn't do much for me. As a wake-up call to cast off the weight of the dead hand of history, it's outstanding. It's also a lot of fun.



8%. - a very cunning start - I pity her publisher



It's been many decades since I read this book so I knew I was going to see lots of things now that I didn't see then, I just didn't expect that to start with the first chapter.

I like the set-up and the description of 'the prickles' of boredom that are tormenting Inspector Alan Grant. I don't like Grant very much, but I'm making allowances, assuming that he's being testier than usual because of his situation and isn't always so unpleasant about women or such a snob.

What makes me smile is that this chapter is a tongue-in-cheek pitch to Tey's publisher. Here she is, an established author with five books to her name and what is she about to bring to her eagerly-waiting fanbase? - a book where the detective can't leave his bed, the crime is five hundred years old, all the suspects are dead and the 'hero' is a man people have been hissing and booing on the stage for generations.

So she starts the book with an attack on what we'd now call 'branding' in publishing.

Grumpy Grant, faced with a motley pile of the lastest novels thinks:

‘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.’

and shortly afterwards opines:

'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.'

How's that for a warning shot across your publisher's bows?



17% What we really teach in schools





I love the way Tey challenges our received wisdom on 2,000 years of English history by going back to the books that fed us that wisdom.

She describes one of the school books, an Historical Reader, by saying that:

'It bore the same relation to history as Stories from the Bible bears to Holy Writ.

After describe it's simple storytelling style she says:

'This, after all, was the history that every adult remembered. This was what remained in their minds when tonnage and poundage, and ship money, and Laud’s Liturgy, and the Rye House Plot, and the Triennial Acts, and all the long muddle of schism and shindy, treaty and treason, had faded from their consciousness.'

Sadly, this is true and almost every one of those stories is false. There is no 2,000-year history of England because for most of that time England didn't exist.



When I went to university, I was shocked to discover how much I'd been lied to at school. I studied at York, which I learned had been known as Jorvik and had spent a century or so as the centre of the Viking lands in the British Isles. In school, I'd been told that Vikings had raided England but I hadn't been told that a large part of what gets called England didn't belong to any English King until it was conquered by the Normans who had invaded the island. This changed my whole attitude to history.

I read 'The Daughter Of Time' while I was at university and wondered how, if this stuff had all been written in 1951, I was still fed Shakespeare-as-history in the 1970s.



37% Like a set of Matryoshka dolls



The storytelling is strucuted around an elborate conceit that reminds me of a set of Matryoshka dolls nested within one another. Alan Grant is reading a fictional account of the life of Richard III's mother, written by a fictional author of Tey's invention, in in order to establish real events and then mixing in a non-ifctional account from Thomas Moore - all while having absolutely nothing happen, not even a change of scene.

It's a lot to take in and ought to be dull and dry and unforgivably static, but it isn't. It's engaging and occaisionally amusing. I'm not sure how Tey is doing that.



44% Meeting the woolly lamb





I love the way the researcher who will do the legwork for Grant is introduced. Grant's actress friend, Marta, on hearing that some research needs to be done, immediately thinks of her 'woolly lamb'. The scene that follows lights up the book.

The tap at his door was so tentative that he had decided that he had imagined it. Taps on hospital doors are not apt to be tentative. But something made him say: ‘Come in!’ and there in the opening was something that was so unmistakably Marta’s woolly lamb that Grant laughed aloud before he could stop himself. The young man looked abashed, smiled nervously, propped the spectacles on his nose with a long thin forefinger, cleared his throat, and said: ‘Mr Grant? My name is Carradine. Brent Carradine. I hope I haven’t disturbed you when you were resting.’ ‘No, no. Come in, Mr Carradine. I am delighted to see you.’ ‘Marta—Miss Hallard, that is—sent me. She said I could be of some help to you.’ ‘Did she say how? Do sit down. You’ll find a chair over there behind the door. Bring it over.’ He was a tall boy, hatless, with soft fair curls crowning a high forehead and a much too big tweed coat hanging unfastened round him in negligent folds, American-wise. Indeed, it was obvious that he was in fact American. He brought over the chair, planted himself on it with the coat spread round him like some royal robe and looked at Grant with kind brown eyes whose luminous charm not even the horn-rims could dim.

This is becoming quite cinematic in a 'Rear Window' kind of way, although 'The Daughter Of Time' predates Hitchcock's movie by three years.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m01YktiEZCw




52%. - Troops at Tonypandy?



Grant makes Tonypandy into a noun describing events where the popular narrative diverges significantly from the facts and where the narrative is strong enough to resist being corrected by exposure to the facts. He is refering to the riots in Tonypandy in the Rhonda Valley in South Walres, during the miners strike of 1910/11 which he claims have been mythologised.

Police blockade a street in Tonypandy during the events of 1910–1911

I looked up Tonypandy on Wikipedia, a source that can be modified be anybody but which we tend to rely on, and it agrees neither with troops-shot-miners version or Grumpy Grant’s it-was-unarmed-Met-police-with-no-troops.

it seems history is a constantly changing story only loosely linked to what happened, especially once all of the medical records disappear.



67% Fake News As History





The more I read the contemporary accounts of Richard and compare them to the received wisdom, the more I wonder what candy floss fantasy will have ossified into the received wisdom explaining Trump’s presidency or thé Brexit vote or who excelled in responding to the corona virus (which may, by then, be the alleged Corona virus).

I shudder at the thought that Fake News will become School History but it seems, in the case of the Tudors, it already has.


( )
  MikeFinnFiction | Jun 16, 2020 |
Josephine Tey presents a very different mystery. Yes, there is murder, intrigue and mystery but it is from a much earlier time in history.

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is bed-bound in hospital, recuperating from a broken leg he got while chasing a suspect. He has a stack of books to read to while away his time, but none of them appeal to him. Then he is given a book by one of the nurses — a child’s historical reader. In it he finds a chapter called “The princes In The Tower.” It is the story of Richard III and the disappearance of two young boys who were in line for the throne. The story is that the two boys were murdered, but no one knows if it is true. No bodies were ever found and the boys just disappeared.

With time on his hands and his curiosity piqued, Grant starts reading more and is determined to find out what really happened. Grant is assisted by an American researcher who has access to records at the British Museum and can find out answers to Grant’s questions and bring Grant the information to help him solve it.

It is a very unusual mystery, and presents quite a bit of history. Definitely not a typical mystery, but nevertheless it is a good read. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | May 20, 2020 |
This is an interesting who-done-it tale. The main character is a detective who is confined to a hospital bed for some months following a workplace accident. To avoid boredom he starts reading about Richard III and his reputation as an evil person.

With the assistance of a couple of friends who hunt out various historical documents he applies his crime investigative skills and the laws of evidence to the facts recorded in the historical documents.

The strength of this book is in its analytical approach to the interpretation of evidence and its demonstration that the history we learn and that is generally held to be true, may not be as reliable as we might think.

It is evidence that the victors write history. ( )
1 vote pgmcc | Mar 6, 2020 |
Got 68% through and had to stop...

I can't do it. I can't keep going. This book started fine but has become a boring history book with bland characters (barely any characters at all), minimal to no plot, and too much historical references to names of people I have no idea about. There is no explanation for a lot of these historical figures and knowing very little about this period of time it's extremely hard to follow and uninteresting." ( )
1 vote waltandmartha | Dec 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tey, Josephineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnard, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobi, DerekNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manninen, AnteroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheban, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weir, AlisonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weller, LucyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Truth is the daughter of time."
(Sir Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Book I, 84)
Dedication
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Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling.
Quotations
You don't like to think of a man you've known and admired flung stripped and dangling across a pony like a dead animal.
A frisson of horror may go down one's spine at wholesale destruction but one's heart stays unmoved. A thousand people drowned in floods in China are news: a solitary child drowned in a pond is tragedy.
It was, moreover, the almost-respectable form of historical fiction which is merely history-with-conversation, so to speak. An imaginative biography rather than an imagined story.
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Book description
The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey's best-known work, is still widely admired not just as a defense of Richard III of England but also as a study of the nature and practice of history writing itself. It's also an entertaining and clever novel that was named #1 on the list of "Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time" by the Crime Writers' Association.

-------------------------

Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant lies in a hospital bed with a broken leg. To alleviate his boredom, a friend brings him a pile of pictures: photographs, prints, engravings, and clippings. Among the more engrossing images is the portrait of King Richard III. Studying the benign face, he asks himself how such a sensitive-appearing soul could have been the infamous murderer of his own nephews. With the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, Grant reconsiders 500-year-old evidence pertaining to one of the most intriguing murder mysteries of all time. Josephine Tey's answer to who really killed the two princes in the Tower of London has provoked controversy ever since its publication in 1951.

-------------------------

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.

-------------------------

Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is bored out of his mind. Due to an unfortunate fall and multiple injuries he is bed ridden in the hospital and the long healing process and subsequent inaction are driving him crazy. A friend, knowing of the Inspector's passion for faces, brings him a portfolio of historical portraits thinking to distract him. She hopes he will involve himself in solving a "classic" historical mystery, since he seems to know all the facts of the Scotland Yard cases by heart. Grant homes in on the portrait of King Richard III, the supposedly wicked uncle who murdered his nephews, the boy princes, in the London's Tower. He remembers how Richard was portrayed in elementary school history and certainly recalls Shakespeare's vivid portrait of the evil hunchbacked king. However, try as he may, Grant cannot reconcile the face in the painting with that of a tyrannical children's' murderer and usurper of England's throne. He sees conscience and integrity in the face of the painting's subject. And his curiosity is aroused for the first time since his accident.

Grant asks for historical books and reads everything he can get his hands on. He finally comes into contact with a young research student from America who also becomes caught-up in the hypothesis that Richard III was framed. Author Josephine Tey, with the skill of the best in Scotland Yard, conducts an objective investigation of a centuries-old crime. She evenly portrays both side of the story, Richard III's and King Henry VII's (the other suspect), with all its twists and turns, reveals compelling evidence and comes to an amazing conclusion.

The reader is literally taken back in time to examine the accusations, testimonies and material relating to the death of Richard's brother, King Edward IV in 1483, the known history of his sons, Princes Edward and Richard after their father's death and their mysterious disappearance, the behavior of Edward's widow and children, including his eldest daughter Elizabeth, who becomes Henry's bride, Queen and mother to Henry VIII. Tey provides an extraordinarily well researched profile of Richard III, pieced together directly from historical documents, and another profile of Henry Tudor. The author also examines the 1934 exhumation of the two children who were first dug up in 1674. Motives are examined and finally, conclusions are drawn, proving, once again, that history is written by winners.

Haiku summary
Who killed the Princes
in the Tower? Inspector
Grant investigates.
(passion4reading)

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