Maria Grazia of Fly High and King Richard III

 

The reason why you are our guest today, Maria Grazia, is that your main blog, FLY HIGH!

 

Fly High blog header

 

features pages dedicated to Richard III and to Richard Armitage. You’ve been writing about RA’s career and work for a while now and you’ve started an interesting series focused on Richard III and his history – with posts written by you and by experts – recently (Link list follows below the interview!). You seem to be keen on both Richard III and Richard Armitage, hence, you are the ideal guest for this site. Welcome!

Richard Armitage by Matt Holyoak

Richard Armitage by Matt Holyoak for Project Magazine 7/2011

King Richard III

King Richard III (Source: Wikimedia.org) Image flipped horizontal!

Thanks for inviting me. You are right I have got a real interest in both the men. I really hope Richard Armitage will achieve his dream of shooting/producing a TV series about Richard III and that it could contribute to the spreading of a new, more positive image of the wrongly despised King of England.

What was it that brought you to want to know more about King Richard III, who in literature mostly got a description of being an ugly, hunchbacked and crippled King?

I owe my enthusiasm for the Ricardian cause and my extraordinary quest in search for the real Richard III to a novel: Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour. It was such a revelation for someone like me who had always and only read Shakespeare’s tragic portrait of him as the ultimate villain. An incredibly powerful characterization but so distant from the reality, I bet.
After that novel, I’ve read other interesting ones based on a completely positive image of Richard III: Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time and Anne O’Brien’s The Virgin Queen.
The ugly monster who killed his nephews to get to the throne was substituted by the very humane figure of a complex, loyal, dutiful man.

 

 

Was the fascination more because of the image you had because of Shakespeare or were other factors more important?

I’ve never been so interested in Shakespeare‘s Richard III, actually. His historical plays are the ones I know and appreciate the least. I prefer tragedies like Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Othello or comedies like The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado about Nothing, Twelfth Night or As you like it. Smart dramatist and wonderfully gifted writer as Shakespeare was, he fully achieved his aim with the Tudor propaganda: fiction replaced history and it has gone on like that for centuries. Richard Plantagenet has been Shakespeare’s hunchbacked and crippled king for so many and for so long. But now I’m fascinated by the contrast between the documents discovered later on – with the resulting new hypothesis – and Shakespeare’s account of those facts.

 

Can you share a very special fan-event / moment determining your interest in King Richard with us?

Well, as you may guess, everything started when I heard Richard Armitage talk about his Richard III project. I had been following his career for a while after watching him as John Thornton in North and South, when I happened to watch an interview for the promotion of Robin Hood season  2, in which he talked about a different image of Richard III in a script he was working on. I was struck by lightning: “Richard III was not wicked?!? What is this all about”?
So I started researching and I discovered The Ricardian Society and their cause.

[Annotation: More information and contact details of the Richard III Society in this article and page on KRA.]

I’ve listened and read more of Richard Armitage about Richard III (the interview in the Venetia audiobook, an interview for Strike Back on the radio and , especially the interview at Vulpex Libris) until I decided to buy and read The Sunne in Splendour and … I got in love with Sharon Kay Penman’s Dickon. Now, I can’t actually see Richard Armitage (an adult man) as young Dickon, but I would love to see him as Richard III in the last years of his life.

 

What is a special aspect / character trait of King Richard III which fascinates you?

His being loyal to his brother, King Edward IV, to his duties as Duke of Gloucester and Lord of the North, to his family. Then, the picture I have in my mind is biased by the romantic Dickon Ms Penman portrayed, of course, but I can only imagine him as a very sensitive and thoughtful husband and father. Just have a look at his concerned look in his portrait: that can’t be the look of a wicked person.

 

Did you see some of the places where King Richard lived, stayed, was?

Oh indeed I did! And it was memorable. I went to Yorkshire in July and the best moment of the Ricardian tour was our visit to Middleham Castle. It was so thrilling, even moving. I was touched and sad during that visit. The place was bleak and windy. I so wanted to have glimpses of the happy moments Richard had lived there, but it was not easy. Then I was at Sheriff Hutton and at Bosworth. I wrote about that experience on Fly High and you can see also some of my pictures in “On the Footsteps of Richard III”.

 

What about you and … Richard Armitage?

Richard Armitage is my favourite actor and my “one weakness“. Everything started in August 2008 when I decided to buy a DVD online titled NORTH AND SOUTH (BBC 2004). I wanted to use it in my lessons about Mrs Gaskell and her novels. It was the end of my old serious prof-style life and the beginning of a half – serious addiction to everything this man happens to do. And he has surprised me in many ways so far: he was young Monet (one of my favourite painters!), wicked Lovelace in Richardson’s Clarissa, a handsome workaholic doctor in The Golden Hour, evil Gisborne in Robin Hood, tender John Standring in Sparkhouse, dashing treacherous John Mulligan in Moving On, lovely Harry J. Kennedy in The Vicar of Dibley, but last and definitely not least, he miraculously landed on my favourite BBC series, SPOOKS as Lucas North. I know this list is not complete but these are just the first roles which came to my mind in no particular order. I’m glad he’s going to be under global spotlight as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit and would eagerly like him as King Richard III.

 

Do your family / friends / colleagues share your admiration for King Richard III?

I’ve got few friends who share my interest in Richard III but no colleague or member of my family, unfortunately. However, thanks to my blog I’ve had the chance to meet other admirers from all over the world!

 

Maria Grazia lives in Italy, not far from Rome. She teaches English as a foreign language to teenage students and English literature and she loves her job. She became a blogger to help her students and support them with useful materials in 2008 and blogging has become her main hobby. Fly High is her main site about books, art, period drama, movies, classic literature, historical fiction and Richard Armitage. She’s also got a Jane Austen-dedicated page, My Jane Austen Book Club, where she “meets” Janeites to discuss everything Austen.   She’s married and has two teenage sons.

 

Maria Grazia and her articles about King Richard III on FLY HIGH:

 

 

Maria Grazia online:

 

12 Responses to Maria Grazia of Fly High and King Richard III

  • fitzg says:

    Long-time Ricardian. Thanks to Josepine Tey. Signed the petition last summer. 🙂 Actually, I do like the Bard’s history plays, too, and Olivier’s evil but enticing crab of a Richard III. But Shakespeare was not an historian. He buried the real Richard III in the morass of insecure Tudor propaganda. Richard Plantagenet did not deserve to have served as the great Devil in the English consciousness. I so much hope that that career dream of Mr. Armitage is realised. Whatever the truth of the nephews’ disappearance, Richard was a great Lord of the North, and could well have been a very good English king. Betrayal played a continual role during the War of the Cousins.

    CDoart – I love Spooks, too, mostly with Armitage, But also without… As for Harry K, it is the feel-good DVD. Love it! 😀

    • CDoart says:

      Thank you, fitzg, for your support!
      Spooks is no longer my no. 1 go-to feel-good since RA’s demise, but I still admire its witty and to the point presentation of suspense and today’s political fears. I liked the whole series very much, and for an obvious reason 7, 8 and I must admit 9, especially ;o)
      The changing intrigues and espionage is nearly compareable to King Richard’s time of fast changing loyalties and betrayals.

  • Maria Grazia says:

    I too loved watching Spooks, with or without Richard Armitage, Fitzg (but with him so much more!) I adore Harry in VoD, watching those two episodes really helps when I’m in a blue mood.
    As I said in total honesty, I didn’t like studying Shakespeare’s historical plays when I was at university, and that negative first impression never left me. But I’m glad you’re such an expert connoisseur.
    This project for a TV series to popularize a different image of Richard III would be really important for the Ricardian cause. Especially because it comes from a true, sensitive Ricardian like our Mr Armitage.
    Fingers crossed. And thanks for your comment! 😀

  • OneMoreLurker says:

    Nice interview, thanks for sharing.

    I didn’t know much about Richard III, Maria’s post on Sharon K. Penman’s book was what convinced me to read the book and of course I wasn’t disappointed, I loved it from the first to the last page and got me interested in Richard III.

    OML 🙂

    • Maria Grazia says:

      Glad to hear I recruited at least one more supporter to the Ricardian cause! I am a newbie myself, so that’s a great result 🙂 And I’m also glad to hear you liked Penman’s novel. It’s a great one.

  • fitzg says:

    I did my degree in History and English, so always divided between the dry/realistic, and the pure joy of words and literature. Perhaps one (head) balances the other (heart)? Balance is good, particularly when following the career of a rather attractive actor…
    PS, I am in no way an expert connoisseur on anything 😀 But do rather love Austen and the Brontes and Mr. A, and medieval history….(Butterfly, or grasshopper?)

    Not certain about Sharon Penman’s Sunne. Head did not emerge with a strong perception of Richard P. But it was a very good historical novel. Heart was with him.

    • CDoart says:

      I can well understand this split feeling how best to approach the topic, fitzg. I think, one more history book about King Richard and then I will approach Sharon K. Penman’s novel ;o)

  • Maria Grazia says:

    Heart and head, sense and sensibility … I’m getting milder and milder in my old age (middle age, still 😉 ) but when it comes to the Richards I love, I fear I become a little biased.

  • Great interview with Maria Grazia and detailing her historical essays! Cheers! Grati ;-.

  • phylly3 says:

    Lovely interview! I well remember your review of The Sunne in Splendor” MG. I believe I commented there that I had read that book many years ago. I do love historical fiction! So I already had a feeling that RIII was not the villain Shakespeare had made him out to be.
    I was thrilled to learn that Richard Armitage had an interest in portraying that king in a sympathetic manner. He would be the perfect actor to portray RIII! And since it is something he dearly desires to do – I am behind him 100%!

  • Maria Grazia says:

    Thank you, Phylly! Your support and your enthusiasm are really appreciated 😀

  • Pingback: KRA Week – Day 3 | King Richard Armitage

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