Updated 7 September 2008. The 30 years (1455-1485) that make up the Wars of the Roses – a period of intermittent civil strife between Lancastrians and Yorkists - tested the character of many a man. Much historical fiction stems from this era. Add to the troubled times, an unsolved mystery involving the disappearance of two princes, and you have the perfect background for a story. Since Richard III reigned at the time of their disappearance, and since the Battle of Bosworth, where he died, marks the end of the Wars, it was perhaps inevitable that he become a frequent subject of historical fiction. Thus, I’ll start the pathfinders to which I refer in my introductory post, with him.
Use the resources available in Find Books to locate copies of these novels. Or for books currently available at Amazon, follow the title links. Fuzzy History receives a small commission for referral purchases.
Green titles comprise those I really enjoyed (Excellent to Very Good rating). If there is no comment following the title, I haven’t read the book.
Broken Sword by Rhoda Edwards. Very dry reading that covers the last 2 years of Richard’s reign. For the earlier years, see Fortune’s Wheel.
Crown of Roses by Valerie Anand. Realistic character portrayal.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard assesses the character of Richard III from his hospital bed. Somewhat dated ideas. Pro-Ricardian.
Fortune’s Wheel by Rhoda Edwards. Dry reading that covers the early years of Edward IV’s reign, when Richard served as his loyal second-man. For Richard’s reign, see Broken Sword.
The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. First in a series that stretches from the Wars of the Roses to present day, this story features brief appearances from Richard III. It’s sympathic.
The Killing of Richard the Third by Robert Farrington. The first book in a trilogy that features an amateur secret agent. It covers the years, 1483 to 1495. Pro-Ricardian. The other two titles in the series are Tudor Agent and The Traitors of Bosworth.
The King’s Bed by Margaret Campbell Barnes.
King’s Ransom by Glenn Pierce.
The Lodestar by Pamela Belle. The main character joins the Duke of Gloucester’s household. The novel suggests one possibility concerning the fate of the young princes. The book is considered a prequel to the author’s English Civil War series.
The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters. While I enjoyed the early books in the author’s Amelia Peabody mystery series, I couldn’t finish this one. Roxane C. Murph, past chairman of the American Branch of the Richard III Society, said this about it: ”The Murders of Richard III has been rather controversial. I enjoyed the book, and was surprised by the unfavorable reactions of some Ricardians. Peters pokes fun at some of the more uncritical defenders of the king, but there is no malice in her work. I suppose it just proves that some of us are over-sensitive on the subject, or perhaps we take ourselves too seriously at times.”
Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett. A sub-plot centers around what happened to one of the princes, but the book itself is not about Richard III. Major characters include Sir Thomas More and the German artist, Hans Holbein.
Richard III by Shakespeare. Largely exaggerated, historically inaccurate, but nonetheless a great classic.
The Rose at Harvest End by Eleanor Fairburn. Book 3 in a four-part series on Cicely Neville, Richard III’s mother. This one covers 1461 to the death of Edward IV in 1483. Other titles in the series: The Rose in Spring (#1), White Rose, Dark Summer (#2) and Winter’s Rose (#4).
A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith. An imagined love story about Richard III and his fictional mistress, Kate Haute.
Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewynne. A historical romance with the typical cheesy cover of a bodice-ripper. But consumer comments indicate it portrays better-than-average historical research.
The Rose of York: Love & War by Sandra Worth. This title is the first in a series. I thought the characterizations were over-the-top. Purple prose. Pro-Ricardian. There are two more in the series: Crown of Destiny and Fall from Grace.
The Seventh Son by Reay Tannahill. A bit on the dry side, the author gives a balanced portrayal of Richard III. He’s neither evil nor a saint.
The Sun In Splendor by Juliet Dymoke.
The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. An epic novel of the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III. Pro-Ricardian.
To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell.
Treason by Meredith Whitford.
Under the Hog by Patrick Carleton. I haven’t read this one yet. It can be difficult to track down at a reasonable price. Originally published in 1938, it is a pro-Ricardian classic.
We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman. I haven’t read this one. Romantic. Pro-Ricardian.
The White Rose by Jan Westcott. I haven’t read this one. Westcott wrote more romance than historical fiction. Former Richard III Society Fiction Librarian, Jeanne Trahan Faubell, says The White Rose is “a romantic novel greatly sympathetic to Elizabeth and Anthony Woodville.”
Barton Library Catalogue (Richard III Society)
Medieval Fiction Reading List
Ricardian Fiction: Trash and Treasures
The Wars of the Roses: Fiction