In Search of the Real Richard III

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Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 3

"I, that am rudely stamped..."
Richard III (1.1.16)

Shakespeare not only talked about his own times; he also wrote history plays that showed us the past—though it was a past filtered through the politics and prejudices of Shakespeare's present.

Questions about this came up recently when a body was found in a Leicester, England, parking lot. That body is now widely believed to be that of King Richard III.

Among the many issues raised, along with that body, are questions about who the real Richard III was, versus the dramatic character that we've all come to know from stage and film.

In search of that answer, Rebecca Sheir, host of our Shakespeare Unlimited series, talks with an expert on the historic Richard III, David Baldwin, and an expert on Shakespeare's Richard III, Michael Dobson. Meanwhile, historian Retha Warnicke explains the practical challenges of any research into Richard's long-ago time.

David Baldwin is a medieval historian who has taught at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham. His book Richard III was published by Amberley in 2012.

Michael Dobson is Director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham in England.

Retha Warnicke is Professor of History at Arizona State University.

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From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved.

Produced for the Folger Shakespeare Library by Richard Paul; Garland Scott, associate producer. Edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington.

Thanks to Hannah Tucker at the University of Leicester for her help.

 

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Want more? Browse our full list of Shakespeare Unlimited episodes. Listen on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and NPR One.