Richard III

This article is about Shakespeare's play. For other uses, see Richard III (disambiguation).

In Richard III, one of William Shakespeare's plays, Shakespeare invites us on a moral holiday. The play draws us to identify with Richard and his fantasy of total control of self and domination of others. Not yet king at the start of the play, Richard presents himself as an enterprising villain as he successfully plans to dispose of his brother Clarence. Richard achieves similar success in conquering the woman he chooses to marry. He carves a way to the throne through assassination and executions.

But Richard also meets resistance, most threateningly from Queen Margaret, widow of King Henry VI, whom he killed before the play's beginning. Margaret issues a stream of curses, including one on Richard.

Gradually, the curses are fulfilled, suggesting the curse on Richard may come true, too. Increasingly, the play directs our sympathies away from Richard. His supporters desert him; his victims pile up. We may begin to share in the desire for vengeance voiced by Margaret.

Shakespeare is thought to have written Richard III in 1592-94. It was published as a quarto in 1597. A major source is Sir Thomas More's The History of King Richard III.[1]

Productions at the Folger

Helen Hayes Awards
Nominations: "Outstanding Choreography, Resident Play or Musical" for Brad Waller

Early editions

First Folio

LUNA: First Folio: s5r - t2v
Hamnet: STC 22273 Fo. 1 no. 68

Second Folio

LUNA: Second Folio: s1r - v4v
Hamnet: STC 22274 Fo. 2 no. 07

First Quarto

LUNA: First Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22314

Fourth Quarto

LUNA: Fourth Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22317 Copy 1

Fifth Quarto

LUNA: Fifth Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22318 Copy 1

Sixth Quarto

LUNA: Sixth Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22319

Seventh Quarto

LUNA: Seventh Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22320 Copy 1

Eighth Quarto

LUNA: Eighth Quarto
Hamnet: STC 22321 Copy 1

Modern editions

RichardIII Folger Edition.jpg

Richard III can be read online with Folger Digital Texts and purchased from Simon and Schuster.

Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 2003 copy 2 v.19

In popular culture


The Folger owns over 25 stand-alone translations of Richard III in various languages (not including collected works). Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.

Performance materials

Other media

Audio Edition

Richard III Audio Edition from Simon & Schuster is available as an audio download.

Richard III audio CD cover.jpg
Richard III Drew Cortese
Ratcliffe/Friar Andrew Criss
Lovell/Friar Daniel Flint
Hastings/Tyrell Sean Fri
Richmond/Rivers Michael Gabriel Goodfriend
Duchess of York Nanna Ingvarsson
Queen Margaret Naomi Jacobson
Lady Anne Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan
Edward/Mayor/Norfolk Paul Morella
Queen Elizabeth Julia Motyka
Buckingham Howard W. Overshown
Clarence/Catesby Michael Sharon
Stanley Richard Sheridan Willis

Other parts were played by members of the cast.

Directed by Robert Richmond.

Music performed by Rebecca Sheir, vocals, and Eric Shimelonis, organ and other instruments.

In partnership with Simon & Schuster Audio.

Image Group

Explore the curated image group for Richard III in the Folger digital image collection.


Listen to Robert Richmond, director of the 2014 Folger Theatre production of Richard III, discuss a Gloucester-themed 19th-century political cartoon, also featured in the 2014 Folger Exhibition Shakespeare's the Thing.


  1. Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 1996 Folger Shakespeare Library.