A Lesson in Lecturing
Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk by the historian John Ashdown-Hill on the search for the mortal remains of Richard III. I had not heard him speak before and wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. I have read several of his books and found them informative and interesting so I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed.
He has an informal approach which includes asking the audience questions, which really breaks the ice. But I was especially interested in his methods, since I am scheduled to give a talk about Richard III this week. He was knowledgeable and humorous, and incredibly patient when he was asked the usual ‘What about the princes in the Tower?’ question. He explained that, actually, the princes were legally seen as illegitimate and therefore were not princes at all, and that they were unlikely to have lived together for most of their lives. He had already explained about Eleanor Talbot and Titulus Regius. He also touched on some of the legends that have grown up about Richard III – that his bones were thrown into the river Soar, that he was a hunchback, that he was a usurper; he explained all these very clearly for a ‘lay’ audience, I’m sure laying to rest these myths for the attendees of the lecture. He also explained in detail what actually went on when they started digging and some of the coincidences that occurred. I noticed that he spoke in a very unhurried way – that might be difficult for my talk as I only have an hour and I have a LOT to fit in!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing an experienced speaker at work and got to have a short chat with him afterwards, when he signed my copy of his book ‘The Mythology of Richard III’. He is a very learned and educated man with such a lot of knowledge. It was a real privilege to meet him at last.