The Feud and Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet': a Reconsideration

Alison Wall


Writers on Shakespeare have assumed the genesis and source of Romeo and Juliet to be purely literary, based chiefly on Brooke's 1562 poem, and perhaps Painter's Palace of Pleasure. But is it possible that a set of real English circumstances was the spur, to set the scene and prod Shakespeare's imagination to make use of a thirty-year-old poem, transforming both true story and pedestrian poem into the famous play? For it is possible to identify an English situation containing many of the elements which make up the theme of Romeo and Juliet, some of which are not in Brooke, and to show the links with Shakespeare which mean that he knew the circumstances. These events of 1594-5 could also help to date the play's composition more closely.

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