Quick Start for Students
Whether you’re studying Shakespeare’s play or the historical controversy over Richard III’s reputation, we’re sure you’ll find your studies fascinating, and hope that this collection of resources will help you. But before we start on the resources on this site, we have something important to tell you:
This Site is Not a Substitute for Your Library!
Go to your school or neighborhood library as quickly as possible and talk with your reference librarian. We can’t put a whole library on this web site, although we’ve put on a lot of the hard to find fifteenth-century sources. You can use a combination of the materials on this site to prepare you for a library visit. (And check out this page of librarian’s advice on researching the middle ages!)
Your research starts here:
- Go through the steps we’ve listed in the Where to Start on Our Site section of this page. When you are finished, you will have a basic understanding of Richard III in history and literature, and you’ll know what is and isn’t available on this site to help you. Our resources include:
- Introductory essays
- Primary texts
- Reading lists (bibliographies)
- Links to other important sites
- Information on writing essays, documenting sources, etc.
- Make up a reading list for yourself, based on the sources quoted in the essays and the reading lists we put on our Back to Basics modules.
- Talk to the reference librarians at your school library and your local library. They can help you decide which of the books and essays on your reading list to seek out first, and which ones you can probably skip.
Don’t be discouraged if the books you need aren’t in your library. Ask your librarian if it’s possible to arrange for an Interlibrary Loan. Many school libraries and most public libraries will arrange to borrow books from other libraries at no charge to you. At a recent gathering of public librarians we attended, they all agreed that they could get books for students in as little as a week or two. If there is a college or university library nearby, see if you can get there. You may need a picture ID (or a parent) to get in. These libraries often have more books on history and drama than your neighborhood library, although you probably will have to read them there.
Don’t put off your research until the last possible minute! If you do, you’ll have real trouble getting the sources you need, and this web site will not be able to do the whole job for you.
Start your library search as early as possible, and you’ll be surprised how much material you can get!
Where to Start on Our Site
If you don’t know anything at all about Richard III, go straight to one or more of these online essays for an orientation:
- Richard III: The Making of a Legend, by Roxane C. Murph. The first two chapters of this book, published in 1977, serve as an excellent starter biography and introduction to the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic conflict that ran more or less the same time as Richard’s entire life.
- Strutting and Fretting His Hour upon the Stage by Judy Weinsoft. This lecture was delivered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1993 and is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare’s play. It also has an extensive bibliography which can help you locate additional useful sources.
- Historicity in Shakespeare’s Richard III by Professor James A. Moore, author of the Garland Shakespeare Bibliography on Richard III. In this essay, Moore traces the relationship of Shakespeare’s Richard to the historical Richard.
You’ll also want to get the standard biographies of Richard III. For all practical purposes, there are three:
- Paul Murray Kendall, Richard the Third. Norton, 1955. This is a sympathetic biography and was considered the definitive biography from the time of its publication until the publication of Charles Ross’s biography in 1981.
- Charles D. Ross, Richard III. Eyre Methuen, 1981; then printed by University of California Press as part of its English Monarchs series. Not very friendly to Richard.
- A. J. Pollard, Richard III and the Princes in the Tower. Alan Sutton and St. Martin’s Press, 1991. Also not very friendly, but probably the most comprehensive and certainly the most lavishly illustrated. Available in paperback at places like Borders or Barnes & Noble for less than $20 — you might want to own a copy. Check out his “Further Reading” section in the back of the book — it’s a complete study guide in itself!
After reading one or more of the online essays and getting at least one of the three biographies listed above, you’ll want to explore additional topics. We have some resources to help you. Most of them are sections on the buttonbar, but a few of them aren’t:
- Back to Basics.
This series for newer members appeared in 1992-94 issues of the Ricardian Bulletin. It offers an introduction to many of the key issues in Richard’s life, with many suggested readings.
- Our Online Library
Because we know you may have trouble finding some of the classic sources, we’ve put up several of them for you — from chronicles written during Richard III’s lifetime to the full texts of some of the classic pro-Richard and anti-Richard books written in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. All of our major online essays are listed in the Library section as well.
- Resources for Ricardians
This is our page of links. For medieval studies, we’d recommend The Labyrinth, the The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and ORB. (The Internet Medieval Sourcebook contains a comprehensive help page with information doing internet-based research in medieval studies.) For Shakespeare, we suggest Shakespeare Resource Center. These sites offer links to all the best online resources for the study of medieval history or renaissance drama.
- Financial Aid The American Branch’s William B Schallek Memorial Graduate Fellowship Awards program offers financial assistance to graduate students working in fifteenth-century English history and culture; The parent society maintains bursaries at the University of London and the University of York. This link provides full details including lists of past scholars and their topics with links to the application form for the Schallek program via the Medieval Academy website.