The hasty burial of Richard III in Leicester in 1485 gave rise to one of the most fascinating literary afterlives in English history. In the next two centuries, historians, poets, and playwrights kept examining this controversial figure. Shakespeare’s mesmerising king-villain ultimately became the most iconic and influential portrayal: partly thanks to the intrinsic qualities of the play, partly thanks to the rising popularity of Shakespeare himself. As a consequence, Shakespeare’s Richard III became our Richard III. Yet early modern culture has much more to say on this character.
In my research, I recover and interpret these neglected portrayals. Though they were less successful in the Darwinian process of literary canonization than Shakespeare’s version, they ask intriguing questions and often accentuate themes completely absent in Shakespeare. Looking at these nowadays forgotten sources, I seek to examine the representation of Richard III from some of the less known angles.
Jitka Štollová studied English and American Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, and Journalism and the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University. Currently, she is a PhD student at the Trinity College, University of Cambridge, where she also works as a mentor and supervisor of BA students. She is interested in various aspects of seventeenth-century English literature, especially Stuart drama, drama during the Civil War period, and the topic of reading and publishing plays during the Renaissance. In her doctoral dissertation, she examines the literary image of Richard III in post-Shakespearean England. She has given presentations at several conferences in the UK and Australia. In 2012, she received the Jan Palach Award for her BA thesis on Shakespeare’s villains which she completed under the supervision of Prof. Martin Hilský.