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Richard III

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Notes on Richard III...

Shakespeare's friend and fellow actor, Richard Burbage, amazed and delighted audiences with his stirring interpretation of the outrageous villain Richard III. On March 13, 1602, a lawyer and diarist named John Manningham recorded a now-famous anecdote about Shakespeare and Richard Burbage:
"Upon a time when Burbage played Richard the Third there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him, that before she went from the play she appointed him to come that night unto her by the name of Richard the Third. Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained and at his game ere Burbage came. Then, message being brought that Richard the Third was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third."

British geneticists at the University of Leicester announced this month they will soon try to sequence the genome of King Richard III. King Richard's corpse was discovered in 2012 under a parking lot in Leicester. Find out more on the Wellcome Trust website.

"Richard is the very personation of confidence in self-conduct and self-control, in his absolute command of every form of dissimulation, and still more difficult, of simulation. He is arrogant no less, on the strength of his superiority to any natural stirrings of love or pity, of terror or remorse. Like lago he believes in the absolute sway of will-wielded intellect to subject and mould passion to its own determinations, while both are, unconsciously to themselves, overmastered and enslaved by a tyrannous passion that ever keeps out of their own sight as if lurking- and shifting place behind them." William Lloyd. Read on...

Shakespeare acquired substantial wealth thanks to his acting and writing abilities, and his shares in London theatres. So how much money did Shakespeare make by selling Richard III? Read on...

"Because of its rapid recurrence of exciting scenes and incidents, its turbulent action, and the centering of the interest upon one chief personage [Richard III] is the greatest favorite of all the histories for the stage, is yet the poorest and thinnest in thought, the least free and harmonious in rhythm in a word, the least Shakespearean of them all. Compare it with Richard II which was written a year or two after it, and in which Shakespeare seems to have taken his first great step toward originality in style and in the treatment of his material." Richard Grant White. Read on...

Malmsey, a rich and sweet wine brought to England from Greece in the 16th century, is now produced on the island of Madeira. Shakespeare writes about Malmsey many times, but the most famous reference to Malmsey in all of literature can be found in Richard III, when Richard orders the execution of his brother, the Duke of Clarence. Richard's hired assassins decide to drown Clarence in a large cask (butt) of the brew. When they arrive at the Tower of London to carry out the task, the unsuspecting Clarence asks for a cup of wine. The Second Murderer offers this ghastly retort: "You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon" (1.4.153). Read on...

The 1995 film adaptation of Richard III, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent and Robert Downey Jr. is set in 1930s Britain. Ian McKellen won the BAFTA for his role as King Richard.