Discover when Richard II was written and the sources Shakespeare may have used.

Shakespeare's Richard the Second, First Folio, 1623
Richard II title page from the First Folio, 1623
© RSC – Image Licensing

Dates

 The play was most likely written in 1595 and first published in a Quarto edition in 1597. The Fourth Quarto, published in 1608 five years after Elizabeth I's death, was the first to include the deposition scene, which was probably censored during her reign. A performance at the Globe on 7 February 1601 was commissioned by supporters of the Earl of Essex's rebellion, which took place the next day, probably aimed at raising support for the revolt against the monarch.

Sources

 Shakespeare read widely in planning Richard II but his chief source is Holinshead's Chronicles. As ever, he compresses and rearranges events for dramatic purposes – the events which occur in Act II Scene I, for example, take place in the Chronicles over several months. It is likely that Shakespeare had also consulted Edward Hall's Union of the Two Noble and Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York (1548) as well as Samuel Daniel's poem The First Four Books of the Civil Wars (1548), to which he may have owed the conception of the Queen, who in reality was only 10 years old at the time of Richard's death.

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