"King Richard II", Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


This richly annotated edition takes a fresh look at the first part of Shakespeare's second tetralogy of history plays, showing how it relates to the other plays in the sequence.

Forker places the play in its political context, discussing its relation to competing theories of monarchy, looking at how it faced censorship because of possible comparisons between Richard II and Elizabeth I, and how Bolingbroke's rebellion could be compared to the Essex rising of the time.

This edition also reconsiders Shakespeare's use of sources, asking why he chose to emphasise one approach over another.

Forker also looks at the play's rich afterlife, and the many interpretations that actors and directors have taken.

Finally, the edition looks closely at the aesthetic relationship between language, character, structure and political import.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 612 pages, illustrations facsimiles, genealogy, portraits
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Shakespeare plays
  • ISBN: 9781903436332

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

When I was in high school, I always thought Shakespeare was over-hyped. I read and reread, without understanding WHY someone could be so popular for so long; how could he have changed the world with simple, short plays? But in college, I had a professor who opened my eyes to how truly amazing Shakespeare was as an artist. He basically invented a metaphorical language that captured irony, pun, tragedy, and comedy in almost-flawless storytelling. Richard II, though not my favorite of his plays, is still amazing in the way it captures both political and social fears of the time. I suggest that anyone who is reading Shakespeare for the first time should look up as much history as they can. It is amazing the things you will learn about figurative language and the political force of Shakespeare's plays. Genius.

Review by

Tough one to rate: without knowing the historical background completely, most things that happen are a little opaque - which makes this particular edition a god-send. Richard's speeches, particularly in the second half, are brilliant.

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