The complete Author’s Note for the new hardcover edition of The Sunne in Splendour
I do plan to blog about my Richard III tour, but I am still having to devote all of my time and energy these days to fending off the Deadline Dragon, who is lurking around until I can finish the Author’s Note for A King’s Ransom. So in the meantime, I am going to post the new Author’s Note for the hardcover edition of The Sunne in Splendour, which was published in the UK on September 12th. Because of space constraints, my publisher, Macmillan, was forced to go with an edited version of the AN, although the AN in its entirety is included in the new e-book. The new e-book is the one currently available for sale on Amazon.co.UK, although the date given is July, 2012; it incorporates all of the changes I made for the hardcover edition of Sunne. And I have good news for my non-British readers. St Martin’s Press has now made their new e-book edition of Sunne available; it includes the new AN and reflects all of the changes I made to the hardcover Sunne edition, correcting mistakes that were not caught and making some minor alterations to the dialogue. The date listed for the Kindle edition is 2008, but the one now for sale is the new one.
As I discussed on Facebook, Book Depository, dear to book lovers for their worldwide free shipping, is refusing to sell the hardcover edition of Sunne to non-British readers. In the past, Amazon and Amazon.co.UK would pull a “foreign” book if a publisher complained. In Sunne’s case, that did not happen, of course. No American publisher would lose sales if American readers bought the Sunne hardcover, for there are no plans to publish a hardcover edition on this side of the Atlantic. So only Book Depository can explain why they have chosen to penalize would-be book buyers who live in the “wrong” country. Sunne is still available for sale on Amazon.co,UK and Waterstones and other British book sites, although the mailing costs are not cheap.
Okay, end of rant. I just find it so frustrating when artificial barriers are put up to keep people from buying books since we live in an age when book buying is in a downward spiral. But as I promised my readers, here is the new Author’s Note for Sunne, in its entirety.
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AUTHOR’S NOTE 2013
I was a college student when I stumbled onto the story of Richard III, and the more I learned, the more convinced I became that he’d been the victim of a great injustice, transformed by the Tudors into a soulless monster in order to justify Henry Tudor’s dubious claim to the throne. While I’d always realized that history is rewritten by the victors, I was taken aback by how successful this particular rewrite had been, and I began telling my friends how unfairly Richard had been maligned. I soon discovered that they did not share my indignation about the wrongs done this long-dead medieval king. I got a uniform reaction, a “Richard who?” before their eyes glazed over and they’d start to edge away.
So I decided I needed another outlet for my outrage, and it occurred to me that I ought to write a novel about Richard. I had no idea how that casual decision would transform my life, setting me upon a twelve year journey that would eventually end in the publication of The Sunne in Splendour. It took twelve years because the manuscript was stolen from my car during my second year of law school. It represented nearly five years of labor–and it was the only copy. The loss was so traumatic that I could not write again for almost six years. And then one rainy California weekend, the log-jam suddenly broke and the words began to flow again. I ended up moving to England to research the book, and three years later, I was lucky enough to find an editor, Marian Wood, willing to take on a novice writer and a thousand page manuscript about that “long-dead medieval king,” and able to convince her publisher, Henry Holt and Company, that this was a good idea.
I am very grateful to Richard, for he launched my writing career and saved me from a lifetime practicing tax law. I am very grateful, too, to Macmillan, my British publisher, for deciding to re-issue Sunne in a hardcover edition. Few books ever get a rebirth like this, one that has enabled me to correct the typographical errors that infiltrated the original British hardcover edition of Sunne and to rectify my own mistakes that came to light after Sunne’s publication, the most infamous being a time-traveling little grey squirrel. In this new edition, I have also made some changes to the dialogue. Sunne was my first novel and was therefore a learning experience. In subsequent novels, I came to see that in attempting to portray medieval speech, less is more.
It does not seem possible that thirty years could have passed since Sunne’s publication in the United Kingdom. And because history is not static, ebbing and flowing like the tides, there have been new discoveries in those thirty years, information surfacing that was not known during those twelve years that I was researching Richard’s world. For example, I state in Sunne that Richard and Anne wed without a papal dispensation, but there is some evidence that this is incorrect. The Earl of Warwick sought papal dispensations when he was planning to wed his daughters to George and Richard, and since he received one for George and Isabel, there is no reason to suppose he’d not have been granted one for Richard and Anne; Richard also sought and received a papal dispensation in April, 1472 because of the affinity created by Anne’s marriage to Edward of Lancaster, who was Richard’s second cousin once removed. We still do not know the exact date of Richard and Anne’s marriage, nor do we know when their son was born, but it seems more likely it was in 1476.
We also know more about the life of Edward’s daughter Cecily, for since Sunne’s publication, it has been established that she wed Ralph Scrope in late 1484. He was the son of Thomas, Lord Scrope, but we know little about this brief marriage. Henry Tudor had it annulled upon becoming king so that he could marry her to his uncle, John, Viscount Welles. He was in his forties and Cecily only eighteen, but what little evidence there is suggests the marriage was a happy one. They had two daughters, both of whom died before the viscount’s death in 1499. Cecily had often been in attendance to her sister the queen, but in 1502, she made what had to be a love match with a man of much lesser status, a mere esquire, William Kyme. Tudor was furious, banishing her from court and confiscating her estates. But she had an unlikely champion in Tudor’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, who’d apparently become fond of Cecily, and she interceded with her son on Cecily’s behalf. After the death of her beloved sister, Elizabeth, in 1503, Cecily and her husband retired from the court and settled on the Isle of Wight. She and William had a son, Richard, born in 1505 and a daughter, Margaret, born in 1507. Since Cecily died on August 24, 1507, she may have died from the complications of childbirth. This marriage, too, appears to have been a happy one. I would like to think so, for this daughter of York, said by Sir Thomas More to have been “not so fortunate as fair,” had suffered more than her share of sorrow in her thirty-eight years.
And in my Afterward, I said that Francis Lovell was not seen alive after the battle of Stoke Field and probably drowned trying to cross the River Trent. Well, now we know he actually reached safety in Scotland, for he was granted a safe-conduct by the Scots king in June, 1488. Sadly, he then disappears from history’s notice, leaving us to determine for ourselves whether he died soon afterward or perhaps chose to fly under the Tudor radar for the remainder of his days.
While these are undeniably interesting discoveries, none of them would be classified as dramatic or a game changer. We still have not solved the central mystery of Richard’s reign–the fate of his nephews. That argument goes on, unabated, with many still claiming they died at Richard’s command, others sure they were put to death by Tudor, still others confident that the younger boy survived, surfacing as Perkin Warbeck, and some agreeing with me that the Duke of Buckingham was the most likely culprit. So my views on that have not changed in the intervening thirty years.
There has been, however, a truly amazing development in the fascinating, improbable story of the last Plantagenet king. In September of 2012, DNA results confirmed that Richard’s lost grave had been found, in a Leicester car park of all places. I confess I’d been dubious when the expedition was first announced, never imaging they’d find their royal needle in that Leicester haystack. But once they described their find, I had no doubts whatsoever that this was indeed Richard. The skull had been smashed in and his bones bore the evidence of a violent, bloody death that tallied with descriptions of Richard’s last moments at Bosworth. Even more convincing to me was that this man had suffered from scoliosis, which would explain the disparity between Richard’s shoulders, noted during his lifetime; in Sunne, I had him injured in a childhood fall. I have scoliosis myself and my heart went out to Richard, living in an age without chiropractors. I’d always known he did not have the deformities claimed by the Tudor historians, for he’d earned himself a reputation as a superb soldier at an early age, and at Bosworth, he fought like a man possessed, coming within yards of reaching Henry Tudor before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. I still like to think that memories of Richard’s last, desperate charge gave Tudor nightmares for the rest of his life.
What else did we learn from the discovery of Richard’s remains? While we always knew he’d died violently, we now know he suffered no less than ten wounds after being surrounded and unhorsed. We know he was five feet, eight inches tall. And, most amazing of all, we now know what he looked like, thanks to the reconstruction of his face. There are no contemporary portraits and the best-known one in London’s National Portrait Gallery was tampered with to make him appear as sinister as the stories then circulating about him. For those who have not seen Richard’s reconstruction, it is accessible on the Internet, and will be included in some of the many books sure to be written about this remarkable archaeological find. What struck me was how young he looks. It is almost like watching a film about England before World War I; the characters always seem so vulnerable, living their lives with such heartrending innocence, not knowing what horrors lay ahead for them. Eden before the Fall. Or Eden while Edward IV still reigned and Richard was the loyal younger brother, Lord of the North, never imagining what fate held in store for him and his doomed House.
March 1, 2013
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The members of my Richard III tour agreed that the highlight of the trip was our visit to Leicester, where we visited the car park and met with Philippa Langley and Mathew Morris. Philippa was the driving force behind this quixotic, remarkable project and Mathew is one of the archaeologists involved in the dig. Philippa’s fascinating story of the hunt for Richard’s long-lost grave will be available for sale on October 22nd. Here is the link. http://www.amazon.com/Kings-Grave-Search-Richard-ebook/dp/B00CQY9FDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381806318&sr=1-1&keywords=philippa+langley I will discuss our Leicester experiences when I am able to blog about the tour; it was a memorable evening in so many respects. The odds were so against Philippa, but she persevered when most people would have given up in despair. If Richard III does have a guardian angel, she lives in Edinburgh!
October 15, 2013