Bury Richard III where he fell, believes author
IT had to happen. When you get the chance to question the first lady of historical fiction on such a hot subject as the finding of the remains of Richard III, you grab it.
With the BBC TV series on The White Queen just ended, Philippa Gregory is hot news at the moment and, as the audience at her talk at the Cheltenham Literature Festival already knew, an expert on the Plantagenet and Tudor periods of British history.
And of course pivotal to that time of huge change was the last Plantagenet king, the much-maligned Richard III, whose remains have recently been discovered in a Leicester car park.
Her book and the ones that follow on – The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter – trace the story of the Wars of the Roses and the rise of Richard of York until his death on Bosworth Field in 1485. Since the discovery of Richard's body, much has been discussed about where he should now be laid to rest and this was one of the questions put to Dr Gregory during her talk in The Times Forum. Her answer was a masterclass in objectivity. While she admitted it would be appropriate to bury him in York as his title suggests and where he was much admired during his reign (and indeed where she herself comes from), she also admitted that she was against interfering with the bodies of the dead and that perhaps he should be returned to the spot where he fell those 600 years ago.
Listening to Dr Gregory is to stand somewhat in awe of her dedication to her work as an historical chronicler, albeit in works of fiction. The time and energy she devotes to research is extraordinary, as she strives for historical accuracy as well as producing a page-turning novel.
There is no doubt she achieves both in spades as the packed auditorium confirmed and tributes to her skill as a writer as well as her talents as a public speaker came from everyone who asked her a question.