My name is Lee Porritt, and I have had a keen interest in Tudor history and the story of Lady Jane Grey from as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is having her story read to me from a book entitled “Discoverers and Adventurers” by R.J Unstead, and it gripped me.
I then started to look into her story, and I quickly realised so little was actually known regarding this figure, and in some cases she was deliberately deleted from history or classed as a minor figure. This interest has never really left me. I have always taken a keen interest in any new work published regarding Jane Grey, especially the new discoveries surrounding her story that have taken place over the past ten years.
During my teens I became what my family would probably describe as “obsessed” with locating any image thought to represent her as a way of identifying what this intelligent child looked like. With the re-identification of NPG 4451 in 1996, I was shocked that she once again vanished from sight. I wrote several letters to the National Portrait Gallery in the hope of understanding this properly.
One thing I have learnt over the years is that, due to a lack of documentation regarding Jane and a lack of an authentic likeness, she has never really gone without a face. From the moment the axe fell in 1554 her story and demand for an image has continued continues today.
Due to the uncertainty that surrounds her, this has allowed us the public to put into place our own interpretation as to who she was and what she looked like.
When looking at the various portraits identified as her over the period of 460 years, we see how her story and image have been changed and, in some cases, have been manipulated to fit society at the time.
I personally think this is a good thing because if she is seen as a concrete figure with known facts then it could be argued that her popularity may not be so high today, and with these new discoveries she continues to be discussed and debated and so is never really at risk of vanishing from sight.
I have noted over the years a need and demand from us, the public, to go back to basics regarding what is known about this individual and what is speculation in order to understand her more fully as an individual, as well as her place history.
I eagerly followed the hard work produced by John Stephan Edwards, initially on his website and then re-written in his book A Queen of a New Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine Day’s Queen’ published in 2015. Stephan was to me the first individual to make information regarding the complex subject of the imagery connected to Jane Grey available to the general public and to open the whole subject up for debate.
After the publication of his book, I then started to take afresh look at some of the information I had collected over the years and that had not necessarily been discussed. I also looked at how this could be used and made available to continue with the debate.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way stating that I am an expert in this matter. I do not have any training in historical research. However, I have spent a lifetime searching and reading various books, articles, and archives in hope of locating anything relating to Jane Grey and the production of her image.
This in turn lead me to open this blog as a way of presenting to you, my readers, the thoughts and the various information.
It is my hope, by making this information available to you the readers this will in turn allow you to use the comment section or contact section to express your own thoughts and feelings regarding the Iconography of Jane Grey in hope of creating some sort of archive relating to this subject which is accessible and all in one place.
I must say that by doing this I am taking myself right out of my comfort zone since at an early age I was diagnosed with dyslexia. At times I have allowed this to hold me back in terms of writing due to uncertainties regarding stigma and the time it takes me to produce things.
I will apologise in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes in any of the articles that make this hard for the reader. But I am open to feedback and will make changes where suggested. The use of the internet as a forum for writing is new to me, and I would value any thoughts, tips, and opinions, the in hope of improvement.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please remember that your input and comments are welcomed on this site. If you own a portrait thought to be of Lady Jane Grey or feel an image maybe a representation of her please don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact link.