“I wish the bastards dead”: Adapting Richard III in Children’s Literature

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This chapter analyses a selection of twenty-first-century adaptations of William Shakespeare’s Richard III for children. Through comparisons with Shakespeare’s canonical play-text, as well as earlier adaptations of Shakespeare for children, such as those by Charles and Mary Lamb in Tales From Shakespeare (1807), as well as the many illustrated narrative re-tellings that followed in the Lambs’ footsteps, this chapter focuses on the interplay of methods used by authors of these Shakespearean adaptations specifically geared to children to help the young audience relate to and make sense of the story of Richard III. I show that in these adaptations, Shakespeare’s language is often heavily edited and translated, morally complex and violent elements (such as the death of the two princes) are occasionally toned down, and illustrations are frequently used to embody Richard and convey his morality. Significantly, these works allow young readers to experience Richard’s physicality and disability through an imitation of the way in which they would experience his character through stage and screen adaptations—that is, as a predominantly visual experience. This chapter concludes that these recent re-tellings of Richard III are often characterised by irreverence, and they play with their source material, something largely not present in earlier re-workings of Shakespeare for children.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlayfulness in Shakespearean Adaptation
EditorsMarina Gerzic, Aidan Norrie
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9780429288807
ISBN (Print)9780367256463
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Shakespeare


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