This lecture by Dr Jane Rickard will explore Shakespeare’s engagement with the politics of the past and of the present in three plays: the early history Richard III, the great tragedy Macbeth, and the less well-known late work Henry VIII, co-written with John Fletcher.
In the first, Shakespeare addresses the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, which, as contemporary propaganda had it, culminated in the glorious reign of Elizabeth I. In the second, he turns to Scottish history and the ancestry of the first Stuart King of England, James VI and I. It is Henry VIII, however, that comes chronologically closest to Shakespeare’s present time. This play ends with the birth of Elizabeth and a prophecy that brings the histories of Elizabeth and James together in a single vision of England’s Protestant destiny.
Exploring the opportunities and the challenges for Shakespeare of writing history, the lecture also considers the role that his dramatic imagination has played in shaping subsequent perceptions of the early English monarchy.
Dr Jane Rickard is Associate Professor in Seventeenth-Century English Literature at the School of English, University of Leeds. Her research interests include the relationship between literature and politics, notions of authorship and authority, and the cultures of manuscript and print.
This event is part of the Cultural Institute's autumn public lectures series, which showcases new research with partners at the University of Leeds. The talk is free and will include refreshments.