Richard III

Fast Facts

  • Richard III is Shakespeare’s second longest play, after Hamlet In fact, at the time of its conception (around 1592), Richard III was the longest stage play ever written in English, until Shakespeare wrote Hamlet eight or nine years later.
  • The play has 52 named characters, the most of any in Shakespeare’s canon.

  • One of the early adaptations of Richard III contains possibly the most famous line that Shakespeare did not write: "Off with his head; so much for Buckingham”.

  • Next to Hamlet, Richard has the most lines of any Shakespeare character, numbering 1145.

  • Despite Richard’s infamous villainy, the play is notably non-violent on stage. Whilst Richard is responsible for the deaths of at least nine characters, two of those being children, they are almost all killed off stage and out of sight. Richard himself is killed on stage by Richmond in the final scene of the play.

  • Outnumbering any other Shakespeare play, Richard III was published in quarto form six times before the First Folio was produced in 1623, five of those being within Shakespeare’s lifetime.

  • There is a group called the Richard III Society, who defend Richard’s reign and reputation, claiming that Shakespeare painted a very crude and historically inaccurate image of him.

  • Unlike Shakespeare’s story, the actual Richard was his parents’ 11th child, and their fourth son to reach adulthood, so no one would have imagined he would be King.

  • In 2012, skeletal remains believed to be those of Richard III were found underneath a carpark in Leicester, England. From these, historians can deduce that he was only 5ft tall.

  • Richard III was the last English monarch to be killed in battle. It follows that Henry VII was the last to claim the crown in the field of battle.

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