Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified as such. Occasionally, however, as in the quarto edition, it is termed a tragedy. Richard III concludes Shakespeare's first tetralogy (also containing Henry VI parts 1–3).
It is the second longest play in the canon after Hamlet, and is the longest of the First Folio, whose version of Hamlet is shorter than its Quarto counterpart. The play is rarely performed unabridged; often, certain peripheral characters are removed entirely. In such instances extra lines are often invented or added from elsewhere in the sequence to establish the nature of characters' relationships. A further reason for abridgment is that Shakespeare assumed that his audiences would be familiar with the Henry VI plays, and frequently made indirect references to events in them, such as Richard's murder of Henry VI or the defeat of Henry's queen, Margaret.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
In 2016, celebrations will commence in the United Kingdom and across the world to honour The Bard's 400th anniversary.