Did Shakespeare invent “hunchbacked” Richard III?
Dr Sarah Knight and Dr Mary Ann Lund’s article Richard Crookback, published in the Times Literary Supplement, analyses a selection of historical and literary sources describing Richard III and his appearance.
The researchers looked at contemporary accounts from medieval historian John Rous and Silesian nobleman Nicolas von Poppelau. They also looked at later, more distorted descriptions from Thomas More and Shakespeare.
They trace the initial descriptions of Richard’s physique – including John Rous’ description of Richard’s “uneven shoulders” to the exaggerations of later writers. The piece cite Shakespeare’s description of “that foule hunch-backt toade” as the first recorded use of the term “hunch-backed” – suggesting the possibility that Shakespeare was the inventor of the hunch-backed Richard.
You can read the full piece here.