Hair in the BBC's The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses: Class, nation, gender, race, and difference

Eleanor Rycroft*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


This article considers how The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016) – the adaptation of the Henry VI tetralogy and Richard III for the BBC – establishes a norm of white masculinity at the heart of its representation of political power, and uses deviations from this norm to mark out a series of others over the course of its three parts. Paying particular attention to class, nation, gender and race as the multiple lines of marginalization through which otherness is manufactured, the article considers how the production of difference serves to bolster The Wars of the Roses’ conservative semiotics of identity. It focuses primarily on how the “costume” of hair is used to manifest otherness in performance, examining the intersection of production choices made in conjunction with the underlying misogyny of the plays, and conducting an analysis of how ordered and disordered hair is designed to embody national, classed, gendered and racial difference. Ultimately, the production choices that construct identity in The Wars of the Roses are argued to be gatekeeping processes, determining who or what counts as “British” in an imagined medieval past, and also in contemporary Shakespearean performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-48
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Early online date19 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021


  • hair
  • gender
  • race
  • class
  • Britain
  • The Hollow Crown


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