I have enjoyed the recent BBC Shakespeare season, especially The Hollow Crown – The Wars of the Roses. There were lots of great performances, not just by Benedict Cumberbach. However, I found it strange to be reminded of Shakespeare’s take on the history of the Fifteenth Century, having not long ago read the books by Philippa Gregory and the TV series The White Queen.
I realise why this is so. Philippa Gregory has the benefit of modern scholarship not available to the Bard. She is also more of a historian, as is usual among modern writers of historical fiction.
Apart from that, despite the plays being very long by modern standards (the BBC cut them back a lot) Shakespeare seems to have edited history to combine certain events as well as to leave out others.Shakespeare was first and foremost a playwright. He was also careful not to offend Queen Elizabeth. In those days censorship could be serious: you had a lot to lose.
I wonder how much poetic licence it is acceptable to take these days. Feel free to let me have your opinion.