My passion for the Wars of the Roses – a passion that has now culminated in the publication of my book on the subject – began back in 1994, when a visit to Bosworth battlefield provided my epiphany and changed the course of my life and career. I had already been a professional artist for ten years, and begun to branch out into painting medieval subjects, but these early canvases were inspired by Arthurian legend rather than real history.

As I took in the information at the Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre and explored the site, I could vividly imagine King Richard III charging into the thick of battle, and I determined to set aside the considerable amount of time required to create a large oil on canvas painting of the scene. The result was unveiled at Bosworth on 22 August 1995, the anniversary of the battle, along with prints reproduced from the painting.


Graham Turner unveils his painting of Richard III's charge at the Battle of Bosworth

One of the first books I bought while making my first tentative steps into the subject was the Osprey Men at Arms title Medieval German Armies 1300–1500 by David Nicolle, illustrated by Angus McBride. So, shortly after I had unveiled my Bosworth canvas, I wrote to Osprey enclosing a copy of the print and received a very encouraging reply, saying ‘your style seems to be very close to the kind of illustrations we use in several of or series’ and asking if I’d be interested in illustrating one of the new Campaign titles – Pavia 1525.


Almost three decades later I have now illustrated 90 Osprey books, covering most periods of history, but it’s the Wars of the Roses that has remained as my particular interest, a period that I have continued to research and paint. It even led to several years of jousting – extreme research – which not only provided me with incredible experiences and memories I will treasure for the rest of my life, but also gave me a deeper understanding of what I was painting. The thing I most treasure though is building a relationship with my own horse Magic, a relationship built on mutual trust that saw us win the 2010 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Trophy at the Royal Armouries, a hard-fought tournament that went right down to the wire.


In 1999, Osprey commissioned me to provide paintings for a Campaign book about the Battle of Bosworth, my eighth for Osprey, written by Christopher Gravett and we would go on to work together on several other books, including those about the Wars of the Roses battles of Towton and Tewkesbury. One of the things I find so exciting about history is how we not only personally learn and understand more as we delve deeper into a subject, but how discoveries and new interpretations by others change and increase our collective knowledge and understanding. Bosworth is a case in point. Between 2005 and 2010, a major research programme and archaeological investigation discovered that the traditional location of the battlefield wasn’t quite in the correct place, fundamentally changing what had previously been known about this pivotal battle. Then, in 2012, the remains of Richard III himself were found under a Leicester car park, a discovery that made headlines around the world. Coincidentally, I had just begun a new oil painting of the king at Bosworth when the news broke, so put down my brushes while we waited for confirmation, and I was privileged to be asked to speak at the Society of Antiquaries in London when the facial reconstruction was unveiled. I was relieved to see that this was recognisably the same man familiar from the surviving portraits, meaning that my earlier portrayals were still valid. I then completed my new work to reflect the discoveries and unveiled it at Bosworth, like the first painting back in 1995. The new painting then became part of a large exhibition of my work at the newly opened Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester, which lasted for a year over the period of the king’s reinterment. These new discoveries meant that our 1999 book was now in need of an update, so I was delighted when Osprey commissioned Chris and me to create a totally new Campaign series book about Bosworth in 2020, giving me the opportunity to create new paintings that reflected how our knowledge had developed over the past 20 years.


Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth

Although the Wars of the Roses is where I’ve found my particular niche, I am interested in many different subjects – enough for several careers and lifetimes! I began my career following my father into the world of motorsport art, but for a long time deliberately avoided trespassing into his other realm – aviation. However, in more recent years I have found time to create aviation art, particularly focussing on the First World War, and I have become a full member of the Guild of Aviation Artists and been awarded several prizes at their annual exhibitions. When Osprey came up with their new Air Campaign series, I was therefore delighted to be asked to provide the paintings for the first title – The Battle of Britain – and have painted many more since then.


The S.E.5 proves its worth, illustrated by Graham Turner from ACM 33 Bloody April which won the Hawker Siddeley Trophy for the best work in gouache at the Guild of Aviation Artists 2023 Aviation Painting of the Year Exhibition

However, it is the Wars of the Roses that has continued to be central to my life, so when people started to suggest that I create a book about the period I’d become best known for, I finally agreed it might be an idea worth exploring. I’m so pleased I did! I initially assumed someone else would write the text but was persuaded that I was best placed to write about the subject I had studied and painted for so long. Despite this being rather daunting, and turning out to be considerably more time consuming than I ever imagined, I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much more in the process – even though it did take over my life for a long time! Although I had already created many paintings to provide a central core for the book, I soon realised there were many subjects I had yet to tackle. These included not just the major battles and campaigns, but scenes that help tell the human stories behind the events. As a result, the book contains over 120 of my paintings and drawings, supplemented by photos of manuscript paintings, letters, armour, historical sites, etc.

It was natural that I should approach Osprey to publish my book, and Marcus and his team have done an amazing job. It is very different to the Osprey series book I have illustrated for so many years, being a large format hardback in colour throughout. After years in the making, years that saw me become totally immersed in the project, to finally see the first actual book was a very special moment; I am delighted with how it’s turned out. Osprey’s commitment to doing justice to my efforts was clearly demonstrated when we discovered that what I had created wouldn’t fit on the page count originally planned, so rather than make cuts they added more pages.

If you have enjoyed seeing my work in my big Wars of the Roses book, or the many Osprey series titles I’ve painted for, you might be interested in visiting my website – – where you’ll find details of a large range of prints and cards reproduced from my paintings, along with available originals. You might even find the original of one of your favourite paintings from one of these books is available, and could perhaps end up on your wall…