When Artists Distort History

King Richard III was a monster. He poisoned his wife, stole the throne from his two young nephews and ordered them to be smothered in the Tower of London. Richard was a sort of Antichrist the King -- "that bottled spider, that pois'nous bunch-back'd toad."

Anyway, that was Shakespeare's version. Shakespeare did what the playwright does: he turned history into a vivid, articulate, organized dream -- repeatable nightly. He put the crouchback onstage, and sold tickets.

And who would say that the real Richard known to family and friends was not identical to Shakespeare's memorably loathsome creation? The actual Richard went...

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