The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet

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Frontispiece of The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet.

The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet is a narrative poem, first published in 1562 by Arthur Brooke, which was the key source for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He is reported to have translated it from an Italian novella by Matteo Bandello; by another theory, it is mainly derived from a French version which involves a man by the name of Reomeo Titensus and Juliet Bibleotet by Pierre Boaistuau, published by Richard Tottell.

Little is known about Arthur Brooke, except that he drowned in 1563 by shipwreck while crossing to help Protestant forces in the French Wars of Religion.

The poem's ending differs significantly from Shakespeare's play—the nurse is banished and the apothecary is hanged for their involvement in the deception, while Friar Lawrence leaves Verona to live in a hermitage until he dies.

London, Chatto and Windus; New York, Duffield and company, 1908. Reprinted in 1978. It was played in 1975 in the city of Chatham in Ontario, Canada.

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