“Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen—Amy Licence. Kindle Edition. Amberley Publishing. Gloucestershire, UK. 2013
Unfortunately, this book fell far short of my expectations developed from the quite brilliant introduction. Once I got into the body of the book, I found it contradictory and repetitive. For example, in Chapter 3: Warring Cousins 1458 – 1460, Licence first mentions that of the 13 children Cecily Neville gave birth to, only six survived to adulthood, and later has it that seven survived. Seven is the correct number.
I also hit some speed bumps with some of Licence’s references to people. For example, Anne Neville’s parents were referred to as Richard and Anne right after a discussion about Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville, without a clarifying note that it was Warwick (Neville) and not Gloucester.
Licence refers Richard III as Richard of York: “…leaving the four-year-old Richard of York as Cecily’s youngest child.” I know his father was Richard of York, but was Richard III ever called that? In fact, from early in the 14th-century York was reserved for the second son, which in this instance, would have been Edmund.
Licence gave a convincing portrait of Anne’s early life, from swaddling to toddler to child. To fill in some gaps about Anne Neville’s history, Licence surmised that Anne would have observed and been instructed on the various duties expected of a woman of her status. While I appreciate the general information, I did not appreciate that it was repeated in several chapters with a lead in such as perhaps, may have, would no doubt, is the chance, etc. I feel it would have been more informative, if instead of spreading this information out across several chapters the author described the typical duties and education in its own chapter.
The bibliography is robust and runs the gamut from Hammond, Sutton, Ashdown-Hill, and Baldwin to More, Weir, and Shakespeare. Interestingly, a 19th-century edition of Croyland was referenced instead of the newer edition edited by Pronay and Cox. In addition, Licence frequently referred to both More and Shakespeare, including several quotes from Richard III and Henry VI.
I found the following lines from Chapter 14, Eclipse 1485—“What, exactly, was Anne’s contribution to her times? While Richard III has inspired his own cult following, Anne has received far less critical attention.”—rather curious. What do any followers of Richard—cult or otherwise—have to do with Anne’s role and does the author think Ricardians are cultists?
Two formatting issues with this publication are that the table of contents does not list the chapters within the two major sections: “Anne and Warwick,” and “Anne and Gloucester,” and it lacks an index. I expect both in a non-fiction book.
In summary, while there are useful bits of information contained in Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen, I found it offered little insight about the subject. Nor did it, in my opinion, present focused account of what is known about either Anne Neville or her marriage to Richard III.”
Thanks to Joan Szechtman. This review will also appear in the “Ricardian Register” (June).