Is Shakespeare History? The Plantagenets

In the first of two programmes marking In Our Time’s 20th anniversary on 15th October, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Shakespeare’s versions of history, starting with the English Plantagenets. His eight plays from Richard II to Richard III were written out of order, in the Elizabethan era, and have had a significant impact on the way we see those histories today. In the second programme, Melvyn discusses the Roman plays.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Emma Smith 6 episodes
    Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford
  • Gordon McMullan No other episodes
    Professor of English at King's College London and Director of the London Shakespeare Centre
  • Katherine Lewis 5 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Huddersfield

Reading list

  • The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England c. 1437-1509
    Christine Carpenter (Cambridge University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare: The Theatre of Our World
    Peter Conrad (Head of Zeus, 2018) Google Books →
  • A Companion to Shakespeare's Works: Volume II: The Histories
    Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (eds) (Blackwell, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Norton Shakespeare: Histories
    Stephen Greenblatt (ed.) (Norton & Co., 2016) Google Books →
  • Tyrant: Shakespeare On Power
    Stephen Greenblatt (Bodley Head, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's History Plays
    Michael Hattaway (ed) (Cambridge University Press, 2002) Google Books →
  • Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare's English Histories
    Jean E. Howard and Phyllis Rackin (Routledge, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Drama of Memory in Shakespeare's History Plays
    Isabel Karremann (Cambridge University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • The Wars of the Roses
    A.J. Pollard (ed.) (Palgrave, 2001) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicles and Drama
    Peter Saccio (Oxford University Press, 1977) Google Books →
  • 1599: A Year in the Life of WIlliam Shakespeare
    James Shapiro (Faber & Faber, 2006) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0000nd9

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Auto-category: 822.33 (English drama)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Henry V, Richard III, Margaret of Anjou, that we remember them at all is substantially thanks to Shakespeare.