“King Richard III remains one of the most controversial figures in British history. Matthew Lewis’s new biography aims to become a definitive account by exploring what is known of his childhood and the impacts it had on his personality and view of the world. He would be cast into insecurity and exile only to become a royal prince before his tenth birthday.
As Richard spends his teenage years under the watchful gaze of his older brother, Edward IV, he is eventually placed in the household of their cousin, the Earl of Warwick, remembered as the Kingmaker; but as the relationship between a king and his most influential magnate breaks down, Richard is compelled to make a choice when the House of York fractures. After another period in exile, Richard returns to become the most powerful nobleman in England. The work he involves himself in during the years that follow demonstrates a drive and commitment but also a dangerous naïveté.
When crisis hits in 1483, it is to Richard that his older brother turns on his death bed. The events of 1483 remain contentious and hotly debated, but by understanding the Richard who began that year, it will become clearer what drove some of his actions and decisions. Returning to primary sources and considering the evidence available, this new life undoes the myths and presents a real man living in tumultuous times.” (Amazon blurb)
Why read Richard III?
Okay so I have always have a soft spot for Richard III beginning from when I was a teenager reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman. I liked Richard so much that I named my hamster after him: Richard III, the Last Plantagent King (Plantagenet for short). And I’ve read a couple of other excellent stories over the years where Richard gets much more favourable treatment than he received at the hands of Shakespeare. For anyone interested, I’d recommend Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey – a detective fiction take on the Princes in the Tower question. And for those who like a little humour in their historical fiction, Jennifer Wilson’s Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is a real gem of a book.
In terms of this non-fiction treatment of Richard, I’m very intrigued by the subtitle, Loyalty Binds Me. When I think of his family, it’s not loyalty that springs to mind, so I’m interested to see how that plays out in this new book.