The Wars of the Roses

Content Group

Overview
Henry VI, Part 1, Janet Suzman as Joan la Pucelle

This series of plays (comprising the two tetralogies of English history plays) was unique in presenting them as a coherent whole, aided by heavy editing and rewriting by Peter Hall and John Barton at the RSC, to celebrate the tercentenary Shakespeare's birth. This concept reflected the view of E. M. W. Tillyard that the sequence represented a kind of epic vision of English history and character, his interest no doubt fostered by an intense sense of Englishness in the face of German challenge in World War II. In practice, the RSC vision was more dark and critical than adulatory to its subject, showing an England run by sinister and often incompetent egotists. Nevertheless, the cumulative effect was to establish the series as one of Shakespeare's greatest achievements, after neglect of many of them individually. The character of Queen Margaret, played by Peggy Ashcroft, emerged as one of Shakespeare's most complex and sustained characterizations. The English Shakespeare Company also staged a similar cycle. Both were recorded and are available for purchase.

Commentary
Essay Title Author
Audiences and Contexts: "The Wars of the Roses" etc. Hugh Richmond
Bibliography

Ashcroft, Peggy. "Margaret of Anjou." Shakespeare Jahrbuch (West) 109 (1973): 7-9.

Barton, John, and Peter Hall. The Wars of the Roses. London: BBC, 1970.

Clapp, Susannah. "Plots Thinned and Accents Thickened." Review of Wars of the Roses, Northern Broadsides, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds. Observer, April 8, 2006.

Crane, Mary Thomas. "The Shakespearean Tetralogy." Shakespeare Quarterly 36, no. 3 (1985): 282-99.

Dockray, Keith. William Shakespeare, "The Wars of the Roses," and the Historians. Stroud, England: Tempus, 2002.

Fuller, David. "The Bogdanov Version: The English Shakespeare Company Wars of the Roses." Literature/Film Quarterly 33, no. 2 (2005): 118-41.

Gillingham, John. The Wars of the Roses. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981.

Greenwald, Michael L. "Feats of Broils and Arms: The Wars of the Roses (1963) and The Henriad (1964)." In Directions by Indirections, 39-62. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1985.

Hodgdon, Barbara. "The Wars of the Roses: Scholarship on the Stage." Shakespeare Jahrbuch (East), CVIII, 1972.

Kamaralli, Anna. Review of The War of the Roses, Part 1 & Part 2, Sidney Theatre Company, Australia. Shakespeare Bulletin 27, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 662-8.

Maclennan, Ian. "Materialist Shakespeare and Ideological Performance: Michael Bogdanov and Shakespeare in Production." In Shakespeare Matters: History, Teaching, Performance, edited by Lloyd Davis, 294-301. Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 2003.

Myers, Norman J. "Finding 'a Heap of Jewels' in 'Lesser' Shakespeare: The Wars of the Roses and Richard Duke of York." New England Theatre Journal 7 (1996): 95-107.

Parker, Elspeth. "The Wars of the Roses: Space, Shape, and Flow." Shakespeare Bulletin 13, no. 2 (1995): 40-41.

Pearson, Richard. A Band of Arrogant and United Heroes: The Story of the Royal Shakespeare Company Production of "The Wars of the Roses." London: Adelphi Press, 1990.

Potter, Lois. "Recycling the Early Histories: The Wars of the Roses and The Plantagenets." Shakespeare Survey 43 (1991): 171-81.

Potter, Robert. "The Rediscovery of Queen Margaret: The Wars of the Roses, 1963." New Theatre Quarterly 4, no. 14 (1988): 105-19.

Reese, M. M. The Cease of Majesty: A Study of Shakespeare's History Plays. London: Edward Arnold, 1961.

Richmond, Hugh M. Shakespeare's Political Plays. New York: Random House, 1967.

Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare's History Plays. London: Chatto and Windus, 1944.

Except where otherwise specified, all written commentary is © 2016, Hugh Macrae Richmond