Richard III

Richard the Third at the Battle of Bosworth

Presumed to have been written from 1592-93 and entered in the Stationer’s Office on 20th of October 1597, followed by 1597 (Q1), 1598 (Q2), 1602 (Q3), 1605 (Q4), 1612 (Q5), 1622 (Q6), 1623 (F1) with editions in 1629 (Q7), and 1634 (Q8). The sources for this history plays are Raphael Holinshed (c. 1528-c. 1580). The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. (2nd ed., 1587). Edward Hall, (1498-1547). The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancaster and York (1587 edition). Thomas More, History of King Richard the Thirde. (1543) and William Baldwin ed. The Mirror for Magistrates (1559 ed.). It was first published under the title of “The Tragedie of King Richard III”, although elsewhere it is also known as “The Life and Death of King Richard the Third”. It was probably written almost immediately after Henry VIth part 3 that is sometime around 1591-92. It has become accepted that the play is historically incorrect and that it was for whatever reason a blatant piece of Tudor propaganda intended to diminish or demean Richard and his claim to kingship. There are a great number of glaring anomalies. For example Lady Anne had been betrothed to King Henry’s son Edward not actually married to him and Richard’s unsuccessful attempt to invade England in 1483 is conflated with his second successful invasion in 1485. He also introduces the old Queen Margaret, who was absent through most of the events depicted in the play. Moreover the depiction of Richard as a hunchback and devilish Machiavellian antagonist a pure fiction. What might have inspired the villainous caricature of Richard IIIrd, that is if we seriously consider that Edward de Vere was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays would have been the real life figure of Robert Cecil, the son of Lord Burghley who we know suffered from a spinal deformity from birth. De Vere would have had some resentment or malice towards Robert Cecil for several reasons. Whether, as others have argued he was prejudiced to those with deformities or disability is unclear. He was instrumental in conniving with Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton and paving the way for King James’s succession to the English throne. Henry Howard arranged for the hasty inquest and burial of Thomas Overbury (see Thomas Overbury Affair) who was secretly poisoned in the Tower. Reputed like James to be of a homosexual persuasion in 1608 he was greatly rewarded from the King’s favour and made Lord Privy Seal and High Steward of Oxford in 1609, and eventually the chancellor of Cambridge University in 1612. Despite its’ historical inaccuracies the play, largely because of its fantastical and stereotypical depiction of events, was very popular and went through five quarto versions before the final publication of the 1623 Folio. As in many other plays the integrity and authenticity of the various texts available in the absence of the original manuscript is questionable from the presence of several foul papers and bad quartos. It was listed at the Stationer’s Office in 1597 without the playwright’s name with a full title page, printed by Valentine Sims for Andrew Wise from Paul’s Church Yard at the Sign of the Angel. Its evolutionary history lists numerous omissions, corrections, and revisions up to its final completion by numerous academic editions.

The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:


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