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The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time (original 1951; edition 2011)

by Josephine Tey

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,1051601,228 (4.01)2 / 537
Title:The Daughter of Time
Authors:Josephine Tey
Info:Oxford City Press (2011), Hardcover, 158 pages
Collections:Reviewed, Read but unowned

Work details

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (1951)

  1. 101
    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. 50
    Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall (myshelves)
    myshelves: Biography
  4. 63
    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.
  5. 41
    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 157 (next | show all)
With such an interesting and unusual idea for a detective story, I've always revered this book. Upon re-reading it, however, decades later, I'm not sure it held up as much for me as an adult with more experience and a more critical outlook. It now seems dated, with the characterization of the minor characters entirely too sketchy and sometimes condescending. Still laudable in its premise and conception, however. ( )
  Laura400 | Mar 12, 2017 |
Written in the 1950s and hailed as the greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers Association in 1990. Police Inspector Grant, flat on his back in the hospital, solves the historical mystery of Richard III and the Little Princes in the Tower.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Mar 7, 2017 |
I first read this many, many years ago, in my late teens, I think, and I've remembered it fondly ever since – it helped to fire my fascination with English history. The idea of history being written with an intention other than to accurately relate events is just the thing to engage the attention of youthful readers eager to “peek behind the curtain” and discover the complicated reality behind “school book” histories. The part that stuck with me, of course, was the idea that Richard III had been unfairly vilified to burnish the Tudor image. So, reading the book again after thirty or so years, I was surprised by how clumsy Tey's set up and style felt, how arrogant and condescending she is about professional historians and others, and how weird and dated some of her ideas now seem. “Nearly all out-size women are sexually cold. Ask any doctor,” says our insightful detective, and his other comments about women, particularly his very tolerant nurses, are similarly obnoxious. His particular sleuthing genius is apparently that he can look at a face and recognize guilt or innocence, and much time is spent on Richard's features (from a portrait) and how they could hardly be those of a child-murderer. This near-phrenological approach does little to inspire confidence in his analytical skills, at least from my perspective. Still, once Tey got going with building her case to clear Richard's blackened name I was again enchanted. She goes on at excessive length about how made-up stories can be accepted as history, but she still manages to build a persuasive case for Richard's innocence in his nephew's murders. Only when I'd finished and did a few minutes internet investigating did I realize that she'd been somewhat selective in the facts she chose to present. Not that they weren't facts, but she left out some things that might have been relevant but which didn't support her story. Still, the “case” is still unsettled and inviting enthusiastic argument after 530 years, so one can hardly fault Tey for failing to provide a truly convincing solution in her very entertaining novel! Her Richard is admirable and sympathetic, particularly when contrasted with his successor, the money-grubbing, calculating Henry VII (at least that's how Tey portrays him, and how he appears in Thomas Penn's Winter King, which I read not too long ago). So, some complaints and quibbles aside, and the sad recognition that the books of our youth aren't always quite as good as we remember them being, I enjoyed this, and I think it is a fine lead-in to Shakespeare's Richard III, which is next in my stack! Four stars, qualified by the admission that nostalgic sentiment colors my rating. ( )
  meandmybooks | Feb 20, 2017 |
Having broken his leg in the pursuit of duty, Inspector Alan Grant is now laid up in his hospital bed, with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling all day long. When a friend recommends to him to pursue an academic investigation and brings along some printed portraits from history with whom some kind of mystery is associated, Grant is fascinated by the face of Richard III and decides to solve the murder of the Princes in the Tower, with someone acting as his research worker in various archives and then bringing him the information.

I've always been fascinated by the controversial figure of Richard III and the accepted version of events that he murdered his two young nephews. Here Josephine Tey attempts to solve a centuries-old mystery by applying a policeman's logic and method (Who benefits? Who was where and when? Is there a break in the pattern?), and she appears to have done her research admirably: the few facts that I double checked are all on public record (well – a quick look on Wikipedia, but I'm planning to re-read the book armed with proper historical sources next time). All in all, she makes a convincing case for Richard's innocence and implicates Henry VII instead, but one has to like history a lot, and to have read historical non-fiction, to appreciate the finer points of the research that are unearthed, otherwise the novel may indeed seem incredibly boring as the action never shifts from Grant's hospital room. (I've never understood how one can find history boring as history is about people, and people are never boring when the whole gamut of human emotions is involved.) The one thing that was indeed missing, as another reviewer remarked, was a comprehensive genealogical table, hence the slightly lower rating. ( )
  passion4reading | Nov 27, 2016 |
“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority” (Francis Bacon). If you don’t enjoy History and research, stay clear, for the book is all about both. Despite the main character is stuck in a hospital bed, Miss Tey made the most of one of the biggest mysteries of our time: the “princes in the Tower.” She did an incredible amount of research and if she didn’t set out to debunk myths, at least she put lots of doubts in her readers’ minds. (Among the myths she mentions is that of the 1910 Tonypandy Riot, when troops fired on the public at the 1910, which was not true.) The Daughter of Time is actually truth and it is said she based her fiction upon Clements Markham's “Richard III”—a book I can’t wait to get my little fingers on! I am not an expert on English history, far from it, but I always thought, from the little I knew of Richard III, that the murder didn’t fit his profile. Tey’s points are very well made and the thing that struck me the most was the fact that what is considered “historical account” was actually based upon Thomas More’s account. More was 7 years old when Richard died in 1485. His book The History of King Richard the Third was posthumously published in 1557 (More died in 1535), based upon the manuscripts her worked between 1512/1519. He lived under Henry VII (Tudor). It is interesting to notice that Tudor was a bastard branch, therefore, not in direct line to the throne. With the death of Richard, a line of heirs had the precedence over Henry Tudor, including his (illegitimate son, John of Gloucester. From Edward IV (his brother): Edward and Richard (the “princes in the Tower”), Richard of York, Elizabeth, Cicely, Annie, Katherine and Bridget. From Elizabeth, Duchess of York (sister): John. From George, Duque of Clarence (brother): Edward, and Margaret. Quite conveniently, almost all of them disappeared after Henry Tudor became king. If the princes had been murdered when Henry landed in England why didn’t he use it as a banner to bring the British to his cause? Much more is in this book I couldn’t put down. A really fascinating read. (Incidentally, Tey is the nom de plume of Elizabeth Mackintosh, who also wrote as Gordon Daviot. So if you enjoyed this as much as I did, look for her other books. Everything I read by her so far was excellent. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
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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.
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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(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
Who killed the Princes
in the Tower? Inspector
Grant investigates.

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 6 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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