The Killing of Richard III
By Robert Farrington reviewed by Phil
It was under his real name of Robert Barker, that the author, born in 1915, attended both Dulwich Prep and Dulwich College and then embarked upon a career in accountancy which would take him and his family to the Far East just after the end of World War Two.
It was in the Philippines that the accountant also became an author, first studying the history of the Spanish exploration of the Pacific and afterwards producing a historical novel on the subject. A posting to Kenya resulted in two more novels and several short stories. In 1960 this colourful odyssey for the Barker family ended with a return to England and it was here that Barker carried out five years of research into the tangled period of history of the Wars of the Roses and under the pen name of Robert Farrington produced this novel of intrigue and murder and leading to the denouement at Bosworth Field. The fact that it is both pacy and racy is probably why the careful accountant might have written it under another name.
A Hilary Mantel style historical novel it is not, although it is told from an eye-witness perspective and introduces, like Mantel, the plotters and schemers of the aristocracy. Robert Farrington’s hero is Henry Morane, scrivener and spy of John Kendall, clerk to Richard of Gloucester. Henry Morane is the James Bond of 15th century England, escaping from bed-chambers, crashing through upper windows and surviving a sword thrust through his back which protrudes six inches in front of his chest. It is nevertheless very readable and the kind of book with which the reader can happily while away long hours waiting around at airports.
On the back of the publicity surrounding the discovery of the remains of Richard 111 from under the tarmac of a Leicester car park, publishers like Little, Brown Book Group are busily checking through their backlists to see if any of their titles can be floated again. Sphere are re-issuing The Killing of Richard III which they previously published in 1972. The hardback edition was published by Chatto & Windus in 1971.
The Killing of Richard III by Robert Farrington will be published in paperback by Sphere on 20th June. 400pp £7.99