Josephine Tey's 1951 novel The Daughter of Time is a mystery novel. Alan Grant is a Scotland Yard inspector who undertakes an ambitious project of solving the mystery of who King Richard III really was and why he had been disparaged by the Crown. Like the lead character in Alfred Hitchcock's movie Rear Window, Alan Grant becomes obsessed with the mystery because his leg is broken and he is off-duty. Grant finds a portrait of King Richard III and muses that the man's visage appears kindly, in stark contrast to Richard's characterization by Shakespeare. Shakespeare in fact called King Richard III "this poisonous bunch-backed toad," "that foul defacer of God's handiwork," and "this carnal cur," (cited by Yardley). As Remick points out, Richard III was viewed as a "wicked uncle and murderer!" Alan Grant takes it upon himself to clear Richard III's image and reputation. The title of Josephine Tey's novel The Daughter of Time comes from the quotation the author includes at the beginning of the book: "Truth is the daughter of time." Josephine Tey's main premise is that truth will be revealed in time, sometimes many years later. Using the personage of King Richard III, Josephine Tey shows that history can be cruel to some characters and overly kind to others. King Richard III's reputation was sullied for political reasons, suggests Josephine Tey in The Daughter of Time.
Using an amusing style of fiction, replete with good humor, Josephine Tey presents the central thesis. Instead of writing an essay or work of non-fiction, Josephine Tey decides to pen a mystery novel and use Alan Grant as the individual who unearths the truth about King Richard III. Not all of the events cited in Josephine Tey's book are true because it is, after all, a work of fiction. However, the main purpose of Josephine Tey's novel is to show that truth can be stranger than fiction. In reality, Richard III has been demonized and accused of being a murder. Shakespeare's play is just one bit of evidence showing that the man's reputation as evil persists. The central issue surrounding King Richard III's character is whether or not he murdered "the princes in the tower," as the incidence is called. Focusing on this central event -- or myth -- Alan Grant solves the mystery.
Josephine Tey does not have prejudices in writing The Daughter of Time. In fact, the author writes The Daughter of Time to eliminate prejudices about how historical figures are viewed. History is usually written by the victors, as the title The Daughter of Time suggests. Josephine Tey suggests that readers interested in history be more critical about their sources and about how facts can and often are distorted by persons in positions of power.
The entire premise of The Daughter of Time is that history is often built on prejudicial or biased information. In fact, previous works of fiction dealing with the same historical issues as Tey deals with in Daughter of Time testify to the fact that King Richard III's reputation as a murderer has been taken at face value. Moreover, the information about King Richard III may certainly be false. Using a fictional detective, author Josephine Tey allows history to be rewritten. Even if all the author accomplishes is to change the way readers think about the historical process, Josephine Tey would have achieved her key objectives in writing The Daughter of Time.
Historical data is consciously, deliberately falsified for political motives. Focusing on Tudor England, such falsification of data is one of the book's main premises. Alan Grant gathers hard evidence in his search for the truth about Richard III, and he keeps an open mind during this search. For example, Alan Grant is determined to rely on primary source documents. The detective discovers that while circumstantial evidence certainly seems to suggest foul play in the deaths of the princes, there was never any solid evidence linking Richard III to the murders of the young boys. Moreover, during the course of his research Alan Grant also deduces that there should have been a motive for Richard to have murdered the Princes. When he deduces that there was no motive, Alan Grant starts looking at why the Tudors might have had their own motives to frame Richard. Richard could have been crowned king anyway, claims Alan Grant, because English law would have permitted it. Therefore, there would have been no reason to murder the boys.
This emphasis on primary sources shows that Josephine Tey also values the usage of primary source documents in the uncovering of the truth. The author is using her novel as a means to champion sound, scholarly research. Alan Grant compiles the evidence using a friend who works for the British Museum and thus he has access to the primary sources necessary in his research. Through painstaking research, Alan Grant figures out that the British royalty under the Tudor dynasty is to blame for ruining King Richard III's reputation.
The only prejudices that are evident in The Daughter of Time is that Josephine Tey seems to be determined to change the reputation of King Richard III by all means possible. Alan Grant does not investigate the possibility that the king actually did commit the murders because he is also single-minded in his pursuit of what he believes is the truth.
Although Josephine Tey is writing a work of fiction, it is important to point out that much of the material included in the book is historical evidence. The novel is still a novel, though. The book chronicles a specific time in British history, a period that Shakespeare also dealt with in his plays. Remick points out that some of the historical figures that Alan Grant investigates during the course of the novel include not just Richard III, but also Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville, Henry VII, Cecily Nevill, St. Thomas More, John Morton, Cuthbert Oliphant, and the Duke of Buckingham. Moreover, Henry VII was a Tudor king and one of the main villains of The Daughter of Time. Henry had a definite motive for killing King Richard III and then making the murder appear to be a righteous battle against a murderous dictator. This period of British history was tumultuous, and occurred immediately after the War of the Roses. The battle between Henry and King Richard III established the Tudors as the Crown power and helped restore stability to the region. More importantly to Josephine Tey's thesis, Henry VII kick-started the Tudor dynasty.
Josephine Tey suggests that the myth about King Richard III murdering two boys had to be fabricated because the Tudors had a clear motive to do so. Whether this is true or not remains a mystery. Shakespeare's version of the story is nearly the opposite of that of Josephine Tey's, which is why The Daughter of Time is historically interesting from a literary point-of-view. As a direct counterpoint to the Shakespeare version of historical events during Tutor times, The Daughter of Time unravels the more popular image of King Richard III. In the Shakespeare play, King Richard III is "is almost without exception malicious" and is "surpassingly evil," (Yardley).
The "Princes in the Tower" were the illegitimate sons of King Edward IV. According to the Shakespeare version of the story, King Edward IV was Richard's older brother. When King Edward IV dies, Richard kills the two sons so that he can be the next in line for the throne. This does make Richard seem guilty, but what Josephine Tey is trying to say is that appearances aren't everything. Elizabeth Woodville, the princes' mother, does not believe that Richard would have murdered her sons and the bodies of the princes were never found (Yardley).
The Daughter of Time is essentially a combination of historical fiction and detective novel.…