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: 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:


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March 23, 2016

Richard III’s Innocence Found in Sterlised Room (by Shom Biswas, The New Indian Express)

August 21, 2015

The Princes in the Tower: Will the ultimate cold case finally be solved after more than 500 years? (by Paul Gallagher, The Independent)

August 19, 2015

Battle of Bosworth re-enactment this weekend (Leicester Mercury)

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A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III’s birthday at his reburial (by Christopher Hooton, The Independent)

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Richard III reburied in Leicester: As it happened (Leicester Mercury)

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Richard III reinterment: Order of service (by Peter Warzynski, Leicester Mercury)

March 26, 2015

Watch Benedict Cumberbatch read poem at King Richard III’s reburial (by Sam Adams,


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