England's National Epic? Shakespeare's History plays

Ronan Paterson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


Outside the United Kingdom, indeed outside England, Shakespeare's History Plays are often neglected, considered to be of lesser interest than his Comedies and Tragedies. This chapter argues that, rather than being seen as accounts of English history, of no interest to anyone outside the country, these plays are interesting, exciting, highly theatrical plays, featuring some of Shakespeare's most memorable plots and characters. Although written over a period of many years, and written out of sequence, this article argues that, taken together, the Histories represent a cycle which is the closest thing in English drama and literature to the national epics of other countries and cultures. Whereas many of those other national epics contain mythical elements Paterson argues that the Histories, differing widely from more factual accounts, represent the creative imagination of an artist, using history as a launchpad for his own version, using history to illustrate his own thesis on power and the rise and fall of dynasties, as relevant in INDIA OR china as it is in England
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2018
EventShakespeare's Birthday conference 2018: Celebration - Renmin University, Beijing, China
Duration: 23 Apr 201823 Apr 2018


ConferenceShakespeare's Birthday conference 2018


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