"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" - Resources for Richard III

A new year, a new Shakespeare play! In case you didn't know, all my Shakespeare posts can be found under the TBG tab above (just scroll down).  I keep them all there for quick reference. Speaking of Shakespeare, I will be presenting an hour-long Shakespeare immersion in Washington, D.C. on February 3 at the In A Large Room retreat and I can't wait! (Registration will close soon - around the 15th!)

The horse quote in the title is a famous line from Shakespeare's play, Richard III, shouted by the now powerless and lonely Richard in the final battle scene from the play which we read this past semester.  The ending was a relief and a favorite for me, mainly because of brave and true Henry Richmond and the realization that Stanley will be reunited with his son. This is a good play to read in middle/high school after you have read widely in other areas, especially history because most of the complex characters and the timeline of monarchs are drawn from fact. That, and a certain level of maturity is needed to observe and evaluate Richard's fascinating and evil behavior.

Talking through the Way of the Will and The Way of Reason is imperative with this play.  And it makes for good talk, too. If your students keep a Way of the Will chart in their Citizenship Notebooks or elsewhere, this play has plenty of fodder.  Even Charlotte Mason saw that in Richard III:

"A due recognition of the function of reason should be an enormous help to us all in days when the air is full of fallacies, and when our personal modesty, that becoming respect for other people which is proper to well-ordered natures whether young or old, makes us willing to accept conclusions duly supported by public opinion or by those whose opinions we value. Nevertheless, it is something to recognise that probably no wrong thing has ever been done or said, no crime committed, but has been justified to the perpetrator by arguments coming to him involuntarily and produced with cumulative force by his own reason. Is Shakespeare ever wrong? And, if so, may we think that a Richard III who gloats over his own villainy as villainy, who is in fact no hypocrite, in the sense of acting, to himself––is hardly true to human nature? Great is Shakespeare! So perhaps Richard was the exception to the rule which makes a man go out and hang himself when at last he sees his incomparable villainy, and does not Richard say in the end, "I myself find in myself no pity for myself"? For ourselves and our children it is enough to know that reason will put a good face on any matter we propose; and, that we can prove ourselves to be in the right is no justification for there is absolutely no theory we may receive, no action we may contemplate, which our reason will not affirm." 6.153

The Hollow Crown - Richard the III
Here are some of the resources we used:

Before beginning the play, the students were to have read and narrated pp. 263-285 of Our Island Story. This gave them the backstory of the War of the Roses. (Most of the students had previously read this but it was helpful for those who had not and gave them the necessary scaffolding.)

My cover/information sheet that each student receives - Richard III cover page.

Secrets: Richard III Revealed on Netflix - This was so interesting to watch!  Crazy but true story about a body found under a parking lot and the scientific sleuthing needed to see if was really him.

The Hollow Crown - Richard III - Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding in his portrayal of Richard III. I used many clips from this with the students. Parental discretion is advised! Loved the chessboard motif - just perfect for this play.

Site we use for students to choose their recitation pieces - Shakespeare's Monolgues.

Here are more posts related to Richard III -
Opinions During This Political Season and Always
Planning Post 2016!  Should You Have Your Child Reread Books?

One more amazing quote from Mason on The Way of Reason, once again so fitting for our current times and stating that Reason, while limited, is full of beauty and wonder - 
We need no longer wonder that two men equally upright, equally virtuous, selected out of any company, will hold opposite views on almost any question; and each will support his views by logical argument. So we are at the mercy of the doctrinaire in religion, the demagogue in politics, and, dare we say, of the dreamer in science; and we think to save our souls by being in the front rank of opinion in one or the other. But not if we have grown up cognisant of the beauty and wonder of the act of reasoning, and also, of the limitations which attend it. 6.144

Beauty and Wonder,


  1. Nancy, at what age is a Folger's edition of Shakespeare appropriate? We've been using Lamb's via AO, but suddenly the list calls for Winter's Tale, which isn't in Lamb's. My girls are in 3rd and 4th grade. I decided to read the Hamlet from Lamb's, since it took me by surprise and Shakespeare is still new and intimidating to me, and very rich for them, too.

    1. Hello, Janet!
      Charlotte began Shakespeare with the students in 2B (around age 9 or grade 4). That's about when I start buying them their own copies, too. It is a rite of passage around here to get your own copy of the play (but you must be able to read...and I've had one that took a little bit longer!)

  2. Good to know. Thanks! I've been surprised by Lamb's; the girls want me to "Keep reading!!" However, it will be nice for them to have individual copies. Shakespeare doesn't have to be scary, and I'm glad to know that!