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Richard III (play)

English actor David Garrick as Richard III just before the battle of Bosworth Field. His sleep having been haunted by the ghosts of those he has murdered, he wakes to the realisation that he is alone in the world and death is imminent. The painting, David Garrick as Richard III (1745), is by William Hogarth.

Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England.[1] The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified as such. Occasionally, however, as in the quarto edition, it is termed a tragedy. Richard III concludes Shakespeare's first tetralogy (also containing Henry VI parts 1–3).

After Hamlet, it is the longest play in the canon and is the longest of the First Folio, whose version of Hamlet is shorter than its Quarto counterpart. The play is rarely performed unabridged; often, certain peripheral characters are removed entirely. In such instances extra lines are often invented or added from elsewhere in the sequence to establish the nature of characters' relationships. A further reason for abridgment is that Shakespeare assumed that his audiences would be familiar with the Henry VI plays, and frequently made indirect references to events in them, such as Richard's murder of Henry VI or the defeat of Henry's queen Margaret.

Characters

  • Richard, Duke of Gloucester, afterwards King Richard III, brother to the king

  • King Edward IV

  • Edward, Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward V (Prince in the Tower), son to the King Edward IV

  • Richard, Duke of York, Brother of Edward V, son of King Edward IV

  • George, Duke of Clarence, brother to the king

  • Edward, Earl of Warwick, young son of Clarence

  • Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII

  • Thomas Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury

  • Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York

  • John Morton, Bishop of Ely

  • Duke of Buckingham

  • Duke of Norfolk

  • Earl of Surrey, his son

  • Earl Rivers, brother to Queen Elizabeth

  • Marquess of Dorset, son to Queen Elizabeth

  • Lord Richard Grey, son to Queen Elizabeth

  • Earl of Oxford

  • Lord Hastings

  • Lord Stanley, afterwards Earl of Derby

  • Lord Lovel

  • Sir Thomas Vaughan

  • Sir Richard Ratcliffe

  • Sir William Catesby

  • Sir James Tyrrell

  • Sir James Blount

  • Sir Walter Herbert

  • Sir William Brandon

  • Sir Robert Brackenbury, Lieutenant of the Tower

  • Christopher Urswick, a priest

  • Another priest (Ralph Shaa)

  • Hastings, a pursuivant

  • Tressel and Berkeley, gentlemen attending on the Lady Anne

  • Keeper in the Tower

  • Lord Mayor of London (Sir Edmund Shaa)

  • Sheriff of Wiltshire (Henry Long)

  • Elizabeth Woodville, Queen to Edward IV

  • Margaret of Anjou, widow of Henry VI

  • Duchess of York, mother to King Edward IV, Clarence, and Gloucester

  • Lady Anne Neville, widow of Edward, Prince of Wales (son of Henry VI), afterwards married to Gloucester

  • Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury, young daughter of Clarence

  • Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth of York), sister to the two princes and daughter to Edward IV

  • Ghosts of those murdered by Richard III, Lords and other attendants; a Pursuivant, Scrivener, Citizens, Murderers, Messengers, Soldiers, Gentlemen with halberds, Guards, etc.

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