Written in 1595, Richard II occupies a significant place in the Shakespeare canon. It marks the transition from the earlier history plays dominated by civil war and stark power to a more nuanced representation of the political conflicts of England's past where character and politics are inextricably intertwined. Deftly combining history with tragedy, its tale of bad government and usurpation had great political immediacy for its first audiences in late Elizabethan England and continues to resonate today. This scholarly but student-friendly edition features a freshly edited version of the text based on the early quartos and first Folio of 1623. The thorough set of textual notes and full commentary are designed to aid the modern reader to better understand and appreciate the language, the characters, and the dramatic action. The introduction places the play squarely in its own time, describing its topical significance and its political perspectives, and showing how carefully Shakespeare positioned his play within an ongoing political conversation. Together with this historical perspective, the introduction focuses as well on the play's richly poetic language and its great success over the centuries as a play for the stage.