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The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet is a narrative poem, first published in 1562 by Arthur Brooke, who is reported to have translated it from an Italian novella by Matteo Bandello. Romeus and Juliet was the key source for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Little is known about Arthur Brooke, except that he drowned in 1563 by shipwreck while crossing to help Protestant forces in France.

Some adherents to the theory that Shakespeare's plays were really written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford consider this poem to be a youthful composition by de Vere, later expanded and revised for the stage (See: Chronology of Shakespeare's Plays - Oxfordian). Ponderous amounts of source study and comparisons can be found in the introduction in the edition listed below.


  • Brooke, Arthur, d. 1564, Brooke’s ’Romeus and Juliet,’ being the original of Shakespeare’s ’Romeo and Juliet’ newly edited by J. J. Munro. London, Chatto and Windus; New York, Duffield and company, 1908. Reprinted in 1978.

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