Christ Church Crest

Christ Church Special Interest Event

William Shakespeare: The History Plays From Page to Stage

31 March - 3 April 2016


The great Duke of Marlborough allegedly once declared that Shakespeare was the only English history book he had ever read! True or not, the influence of Shakespeare on the history of the 15th century has not  dimmed in the 400 years since his death. Like many of his contemporary writers he was drawn to the story of the English civil wars that had disrupted the immediate past. Of the accepted canon of thirty seven plays, no fewer than eight, composed between 1590 and 1598, focussed on the period covered by the great chronicle of Raphael Holinshed and his collaborators. The writer Edward Hall whose hugely popular account, produced under the dramatic title of The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and Yorke, had fuelled enormous interest in the period. Its chapter headings, such as ‘The Troublous Season of Henry VI’ and ‘The Tragical Doings of Richard III’, still conjure up our abiding images of the period. These are still some of the greatest and best-loved of all Shakespeare’s plays. How much insight do they really give us into the 15th century and equally what do they reveal of the interests of early modern audiences? Were they subversive and covert commentaries on politics in his own period or should we simply enjoy them as pure entertainment? Over the weekend a group of specialist historians and literary scholars will discuss major aspects of the History Plays, not forgetting the much less well known King John. The essential quality of entertainment in the Plays will be marked by two performances of some of the most exquisite and best-known scenes. Debate, intrigue and disagreement will give all participants food for thought and allow us to celebrate the life and works of William Shakespeare.

Online booking is available by clicking the red button below.  It is also possible to book by completing and returning the attached booking form.  Full payment is required at the time of booking. 

If you have any queries or would like a hard copy of the conference leaflet, please email:

or telephone + 44 (0)1865 286848


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