Between 1986 and 1989, Michael Bogdanov directed The Wars of the Roses (an ambitious seven-play Shakespeare cycle that won him the Olivier Award for Best Director in 1990), introducing an accessible and pertinent Shakespeare to 1980s audiences and paving the way for later politicized versions of Shakespeare’s plays – such as, recently, the New York Public Theater’s 2017 production of Julius Caesar. Following Bogdanov’s death in 2017, the time seems right for a new appraisal of his work as a radical, political director. The collection of Bogdanov’s personal papers at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust offers a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the director’s mind. The papers include annotated scripts, production records, prompt books, reviews, programmes, unpublished manuscripts, and two volumes of The Director’s Cut – documents spanning Bogdanov’s entire theatrical career. In this article Darren Freebury-Jones engages with these materials, as well as the influences of theoretical movements such as cultural materialism on the director’s approach, in order to shed light on the ways in which Bogdanov stimulated and inspired new readings of Shakespeare’s history plays.