Skip to main content

Exhibitions

Discover our collection

William Shakespeare 'The tragedie of Romeo and Juliet'

William Shakespeare The tragedie of Romeo and Juliet

From William Shakespeare, Mr William Shakespeares comedies, histories and tragedies, London, Tho. Cotes for Robert Allot, 1632, 2nd fol

State Library of Victoria, RARESF 822.33 A2

Shakespeare took the story of Romeo and Juliet from Arthur Brooke's poem The tragical history of Romeus and Juliet (1562). Brooke based his poem on an Italian novella by Matteo Bandello.

Through major trading centres such as Venice, Italy was a great meeting point for the Islamic and European worlds. It's possible that Bandello heard travellers' tales of Layla and Majnun as well as knowing Ovid's account of Pyramus and Thisbe, the young Babylonian lovers who were also kept apart by their parents and who died in tragic circumstances.