The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey has been called one of the greatest mystery novels ever written, and it lives up to that billing. It also gives us plenty to think about.
“History” has it that Richard III was a humpbacked monster who murdered his innocent nephews, among other crimes. Josephine Tey has a hospitalized police detective and a research assistant delve into the matter as if it were a modern police investigation: and what they find is that almost the entire history of Richard, almost everything that people “know” about him… is flat-out false. And can be proven to be false!
That’s a major theme of this book. How do things that are demonstrably untrue get entered into the record as “true”, and why do they remain in the record even after they’ve been shown to be untrue–shown again and again, in some cases?
Richard was overthrown and killed in battle by Henry Tudor, Henry VII, father of that bloodthirsty king, Henry VIII. Henry Tudor had all the motivation in the world to destroy Richard’s reputation and plenty of rascals to help him do it. Even Shakespeare! So we know how Richard’s name got blackened, and we know whodunnit. What we don’t know is why it stayed blackened: Josephine Tey was only one of many historical inquirers who exploded the myth.
Lies can have a long shelf life.
Can you imagine what will be done to President Trump’s reputation, should Democrats win this coming election (God forbid)? Can you imagine the lurid tall tales about him that’ll wind up in the “history” textbooks?
The truth about Richard III has been available for many years now. But the lies are all still there.