Richard III, Leicester and me


Richard III in Leicester. The king’s skeleton has been found under a Leicester car park 

I took this photo of Richard III’s statue shortly before graduating from the University of Leicester in 1985. It was extraordinary to learn that the university this week played a key role in establishing ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Richard III’s skeleton had been found in the city.

As I blogged nostalgically last September, Leicester was a good place to be a student, despite its reputation as an unexciting place. I was fascinated by its rich history, including its links with Richard III. The city is already planning to exploit this week’s dramatic news – and who can blame it.

Today’s Guardian included intriguing interviews with actors who have played Shakespeare’s Richard III over the years, including Antony Sher. Sher famously played the role for the RSC during my time at Leicester. He published a wonderful account of his Year of the King, which I read almost in a single sitting in 1992 when I spent a lot of time in Stratford. As Sher recounts in the Guardian:

I became very interested in the fact that Richard is a severely disabled man. Some actors underplay this – but if you read Richard’s opening speech about himself, he is clearly disabled, and has experienced a lot of prejudice, a lot of hatred. This, in turn, has filled him with self-hatred. It’s this that enables him to do such evil to other people. He was used to hatred as a disabled man in an un-PC society. There were no Paralympics then.

We’ll hear a lot about Richard III – the king and the legend – in the coming weeks.