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Richard III Gets a Literary Makeover

David Garrick as Richard III (detail) by William Hogarth

David Garrick as Richard III (detail) by William Hogarth

Did history and literature give Richard III a bad rap? Shakespeare immortalized the English king as a Machiavellian tyrant, and history has branded him as a hunched-backed villain, rumored to have murdered two princes in order to secure his ascension to the thrown. But according to author Philippa Gregory, Richard III may have just been misunderstood. In a recent interview with the LA Times, she discusses her new historical novel The White Queen (Touchstone, 432pgs), and her surprising take on this controversial figure. “It’s an act of historical recovery,” she says, “…history, of course, gets told by the victors. That’s what Shakespeare tapped into in his play about Richard — that and a medieval belief that a malformed mind led to a malformed body.” Gregory argues that there is historical evidence that supports a case for Richard’s innocence and for the guilt of the Tudor family, who eventually took Richard’s life and his thrown during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Gregory has gained world-wide acclaim for her previous historical novels surrounding the Tudor family: The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance. Her latest novel The White Queen about the Plantagenet family and the War of the Roses, has enjoyed a spot on the best sellers list for the past several weeks. Gregory, and novelists like Hilary Mantel, who recently won the Man Booker Prize for her book Wolf Hall (Henry Holt and Co., 560pgs), have turned the drama of the Tudors into an international sensation. Obviously tales of treason, adultery and murder, don’t tarnish with age.

Read full Los Angeles Times interview

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