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The Folger Spotlight

'The Daughter of Time' by Josephine Tey

The Folger’s virtual book club, Words, Words, Words continues on Thursday, June 1 with a discussion of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. To get ready for the conversation, we’ve compiled some introductory information on this classic mystery exploring the Princes in the Tower.

What is The Daughter of Time about?

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.

The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.

Critical Reception

“One of the best mysteries of all time.” —The New York Times

“Highbrow sleuthing, perhaps, but fascinating to those nearer to history than the average mystery hound.” – Kirkus Reviews

“First-rate mystery, ably plotted and beautifully written.” – Los Angeles Times

“A detective story with a very considerable difference. Ingenious, stimulating and very enjoyable.”‘ – Sunday Times

Voted number one on the British Crimes Writers’ Association Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time list (1990) and number four on the Mystery Writers of America’s Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time list (1995).

Why did we choose this book?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection explores not only Shakespeare’s life and works, but also the plays’ historical context, source material, critical and performance histories, and the ways in which they inspire and are adapted by contemporary novelists.

The Daughter of Time explores the historical facts surrounding one of Shakespeare’s most enduring villains, King Richard III, and interrogates how stories are preserved, who gets to tell them, and what can be discovered when we reexamine history from a new perspective.

“They do me wrong”: Reputation, Richard III, and The Lost King
Man wearing a crown and dressed in a royal robe sitting on a bench next to a woman dressed in modern clothing
Shakespeare & Beyond

“They do me wrong”: Reputation, Richard III, and The Lost King

Austin Tichenor

Shakespeare’s play Richard III turns real people into fictional villains, as does a new movie about the search for Richard III’s remains, writes Austin Tichenor.

About the author: Josephine Tey

Adapted from her Goodreads biography

Josephine Tey was a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh.  As Josephine Tey, she wrote six mystery novels featuring Scotland Yard’s Inspector Alan Grant. Mackintosh also wrote plays (both one act and full length), some of which were produced during her lifetime, under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot. Alfred Hitchcock filmed one of her novels, A Shilling for Candles (1936) as Young and Innocent in 1937 and two other of her novels have been made into films, The Franchise Affair (1948), filmed in 1950, and ‘Brat Farrar’ (1949), filmed as Paranoiac in 1963. In addition, a number of her works have been dramatised for radio. Miss Mackintosh never married, and died at the age of 55, in London.

Content Transparency

The Daughter of Time refers to one character almost exclusively by what is today recognized as a derogatory slur. In recognition of this fact, we ask all participants refer to characters by their proper names during the breakout discussions.

June’s Bookstore Partner

For this session, we are excited to once again partner with Solid State Books. Ideally situated in the heart of the bustling and historic H Street Corridor, Solid State Books provides our neighborhood with a vital intellectual and social hub. To learn more, visit their website at

Orders may be placed by email ( and the shop is open weekdays from 10am-9pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-9pm. You can also order through

This title can also be ordered as an audiobook from

We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this program

Capitol Hill Community Foundation
Junior League of Washington

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