Cultural depictions of John of England

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King John as shown in Cassell's History of England (1902)

John of England has been portrayed many times in fiction, generally reflecting the overwhelmingly negative view of his reputation.


  • John was the subject of a Shakespearean play, King John.
  • Prince John is a central figure in the 1819 historical romance Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, and is depicted in subsequent adaptations.
  • Philip José Farmer, a science fiction author, featured King John as one of several historical figures in his Riverworld Saga.
  • John and one of his Justices in Eyre, the Sheriff of Nottingham, are portrayed as villain and henchman in the Robin Hood legends. These usually place the Robin Hood stories in the latter part of Richard I's reign, when Richard was in captivity and John was acting as unofficial regent.
  • John is a character in James Goldman's 1966 play The Lion in Winter, which dramatises Henry II's struggles with his wife and sons over the rule of his empire. John is portrayed as a spoiled, simple-minded pawn in the machinations of his brothers and Philip II of France.
  • James Goldman also wrote a novel called Myself As Witness (1979), a fictional record of the later years of John's reign purportedly kept by the chronicler Gerald of Wales
  • John is a character in Maureen Peters' 1983 novel Lackland's Bride, which deals with his marriage to Isabella, Countess of Gloucester.
  • Sharon Penman's Here Be Dragons deals with the reign of John, the development of Wales under Llewelyn's rule, and Llewelyn's marriage to John's illegitimate daughter, Joan, who is depicted in the novel as "Joanna". Other novels of hers which feature John as a prominent character are The Queen's Man, Cruel as the Grave, The Dragon's Lair, and Prince of Darkness, a series of fictional mysteries set during the time of Richard's imprisonment.
  • John is featured in several books by Elizabeth Chadwick, including Lords of the White Castle, The Champion, and The Scarlet Lion.
  • The Devil and King John by Philip Lindsay is a highly speculative but relatively sympathetic account.
  • King John is the subject of A. A. Milne's poem for children, King John's Christmas, which begins "King John was not a good man", but slowly builds sympathy for him as he fears not getting anything for Christmas, when all he really wants is a rubber ball.
  • King John is the protagonist of John Bale's sixteenth-century Protestant play King Johan, in which he is depicted positively as a bulwark against the papacy.


John has been portrayed on film by:


John has been portrayed on television by:


John is played by Neil Stuke in Mike Walker's BBC Radio 4 series Plantagenet (2010).