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The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time (original 1951; edition 1995)

by Josephine Tey

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3,6781401,429 (4.02)2 / 493
Title:The Daughter of Time
Authors:Josephine Tey
Info:Touchstone (1995), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Mystery, Historical Fiction

Work details

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (1951)

Recently added byprivate library, booker4, Sameer_mastan, LarsTH, mmoj, vandinem
Legacy LibrariesEdward Estlin Cummings
  1. 91
    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. 80
    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. 62
    King Richard III 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.
  4. 40
    Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall (myshelves)
    myshelves: Biography
  5. 31
    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.
  6. 31
    Royal Blood: King Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes by Bertram Fields (inge87)
  7. 20
    We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (Imprinted, KayCliff)
  8. 10
    Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty by Anne Crawford (KayCliff)

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Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
One grows older and, hopefully, one also grows wiser and more discerning, though this can have deleterious effects on one's illusions.

I first read this novel nearly forty years ago, and thought it was marvellous. Something (perhaps the recent coverage of the re-burial of the remains of Richard III) prompted me to read it again, which proved to be a mistake. When first reading it as a callow youth I didn't spot the relentless smugness. This sense expends beyond the characters (though surely Inspector Alan Grant must rank as one of the most irritatingly self-satisfied fictional detectives) to the narrator. Every description is delivered with a barely concealed sneer.

The sad thing is that the premise of the book is so clever, and potentially entertaining. Having sustained an injury falling through a trapdoor while pursuing some brigand,, Grant is consigned to a lengthy stay in hospital where crushing boredom quickly descends. Knowing his predilection for studying faces, an actress friend brings him a selection of photographs of paintings in the National Portrait Gallery. One in particular grabs his attention. This turns out to be King Richard III, though he is depicted as a handsome character, with signs of ill health, trather than the hideously deformed monster that has been enshrined in the works of Holinshed and Shakespeare.

This revelation of a different Richard III spurs Grant to read more deeply into the life and times of Richard III, and in particular to review what really happened to his nephews, 'the Princes in the Tower'. He does come up with some interesting fallacies in the received version of the story, though, in the nature of things, he does not offer any definitive conclusions. Josephine Tey does provide some interesting lessons in the history of the fifteenth century, but not enough to redeem the smugness of the tone. This is not a novel that has aged well. ( )
  Eyejaybee | May 20, 2015 |
I've had this around for a long time and figured it would be fun with the Richard III news lately. I’m really liking the characters and the history and enjoy the idea of a detective trying to solve a mystery from his hospital bed with help from researchers. Also amusing how everybody’s sitting around the hospital room smoking.

I don’t know a lot about the War of the Roses or British rulers before the Tudors, so I’m going to Wikipedia and my book of kings and queens for background. I like the theme of how much of the history we “know” is wrong, but I know enough to take the detective’s conclusions with a grain of salt. Amusing that the Stanley mentioned here is an ancestor of Lord Derby in the book I just read, and of the Lord Stanley who originated the Stanley Cup. ( )
  piemouth | Apr 17, 2015 |
The Daughter of Time was a very different book for Josephine Tey, having much more of a historical slant than her usual fare. It was however a well presented case for Richard III’s innocence in the murder of the two princes in the tower.

As Alan Grant lies in hospital, he finds himself drawn into investigating the facts behind the assumption that Richard was the guilty party and in doing so, turned up enough evidence that causes one to wonder why this wasn’t thoroughly examined before. History, it seems, is often written by the ones who gain the power and in this case, Henry Tudor seemed to be the one manipulating how these murders were viewed.

Personally I have always thought that Richard was perhaps the scapegoat, and it seems to me that the one who had the most to gain was Henry Tudor, especially as he happened to be married to Edward IV’s daughter who stood in line to inherit right behind her two brothers.

Overall I found The Daughter of Time to be an engrossing read, although not as intriguing as most of her books are. She obviously felt strongly that this was a mistake that needed to be addressed, but unfortunately direct proof in this case has been absorbed by time and without documentation of some sort all that remains is speculation. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 30, 2014 |
Six-word review: Admirable puzzle solving, but arguably overpraised.

Extended review:

Given all the extravagant acclaim that I have seen for this novel over the decades since its publication, I was expecting something stunningly marvelous. It wasn't.

Yes, it's a fine piece of historical sleuthing, and it works superbly in its own terms. I think it loses nothing by the fact that very recent developments have enlarged both scholars' and the public's knowledge of Richard III's demise.

However, it simply didn't knock me out. I don't see why it's been touted with superlatives for sixty-plus years or held up as a supreme standard of mystery writing. Competent, entertaining, engagingly written, certainly--but is it really brilliant? Is it? The most compelling character, in my opinion, is the much-maligned King Richard. Alan Grant, Marta, the young researcher, the two nurses, and the housekeeper all seem very brittle and limited to me, their interactions rather forced and phony, the historical data and the sequence of revelations creating a contrived appearance like the mechanics of fire or ocean waves on a theatrical stage. You can go along with the illusion for the sake of the production, but you don't for a moment take it to be genuine.

The book's reputation, of course, is not the fault of the book. If it falls short of that, as in my opinion it does, that's only to say that it's been overhyped and not that the book itself lacks merit. I enjoyed it well enough, and I liked taking a closer look at a putative villain who may deserve a tremendous apology from history. But three and a half stars are enough. ( )
2 vote Meredy | Dec 3, 2014 |
A detective novel where the “hero” doesn’t leave his bed? The crime is over 500 years old and has already been seemingly solved? No adventure or risk? Could this even work? Well the answer, for my part, is a resounding yes. Here we have a novel that is loved and adored by its readers and well respected by the critics, often finding itself at the top of those Top 100 Crime Novel lists. Part crime and part history the story deals with the murder of the “Princes in the Tower” or rather poses the question, “Was Richard III responsible for those murders?” Our sleuth, Alan Grant, finds himself in hospital and with his long convalescence slowly driving him to tears of boredom comes across a portrait of Richard III which piques his interest and bemuses him. This portrait seems, to Grant, to be of a man who is far from the monster that history has lead us to believe Richard III was and from there we are lead into a world of historical research where the only clues and leads are the narratives written at the time, the rather convoluted world of Plantagenet and Tudor family trees and the Machiavellian machinations of the royal court.
It is fairly obvious from the very outset what conclusion Alan Grant will arrive at but this isn’t a “whodunit” but rather a “why-do-it”. I always saw Alan Grant as more of an academic rather than a legwork detective in the previous tales I had read and in this story he gets the chance to work the little grey cells without ever leaving the confines of his hospital room (he even has a kind young American to do the fetching for him!). Priding himself on his knowledge of human nature and his uncanny ability to be able to understand someone just by looking at their face, Grant leads us from not just a questioning of whether Richard was responsible for his nephews death but rather is the idea of Richard we have from Shakespeare and schooling wholly wide of the mark and are the versions in the history books just a piece of Tudor propaganda? In using written accounts of the time Grant can assess the crime from the point of view of Richard (why would he commit such a crime, what did he gain), from the historians side (what were their motivations, where did their facts come from) and finally the side of those that he felt would benefit the most.
The final outcome may not be one that you agree with but the way in which Tey tells the story and uses the accounts and histories certainly offers up some pretty compelling evidence in the defence of Richards innocence. We are also left questioning where our histories come from, who compiles them or rather who has the right to write them and are they plausible (at one stage Grants blood is up to such a degree at the lack of factual evidence in some of the historical versions that he starts to question 1066!). To quote more learned men than myself, is history “a fable agreed upon” or is legend a “lie that has attained the dignity of age”? The book certainly gives credence to the opinion that “history is written by the victors”.
Not an action packed story by any means but certainly one that is a little different to the usual crime/thriller fair that features Alan Grant and kept this reader entertained. Moreover, if you can come away from a story feeling that you may’ve learned something then what’s not to admire.
1 vote Dan_Hannay | Nov 26, 2014 |
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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
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"Truth is the daughter of time." (Sir Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Book I, 84)
First words
Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling.
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684803860, Paperback)

Josephine Tey is often referred to as the mystery writer for people who don't like mysteries. Her skills at character development and mood setting, and her tendency to focus on themes not usually touched upon by mystery writers, have earned her a vast and appreciative audience. In Daughter of Time, Tey focuses on the legend of Richard III, the evil hunchback of British history accused of murdering his young nephews. While at a London hospital recuperating from a fall, Inspector Alan Grant becomes fascinated by a portrait of King Richard. A student of human faces, Grant cannot believe that the man in the picture would kill his own nephews. With an American researcher's help, Grant delves into his country's history to discover just what kind of man Richard Plantagenet was and who really killed the little princes.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:15 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

With the help of the British museum and an American scholar, Inspector Alan Grant investigates the history of King Richard III, to determine if he was a heinous villain who killed his brother's children to secure his power, or a victim turned into a monster by the usurpers of England's throne.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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