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Course Hero, "Romeo and Juliet Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed October 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Romeo-and-Juliet/.

Author Biography

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University talks about the life of William Shakespeare and how he came to write his play Romeo and Juliet.

William Shakespeare | Biography

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William Shakespeare (1564–1616) was an actor and a writer in a leading theatrical company in London, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which performed his plays. After Queen Elizabeth's death in 1603, King James I further legitimized the company with a royal patent and changed its name to the King's Men.

Shakespeare published most of his work from 1594 to 1613. He wrote Romeo and Juliet sometime between 1591 and 1596, close to the end of the Renaissance. It was common for Renaissance authors to rework existing stories. The writer's skill lay not so much in devising an original plot as in choosing source material that would explore particular themes and create roles for a standing troupe of actors. Shakespeare based his version of Romeo and Juliet on a long narrative poem, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, by Arthur Brooke. The poem had been published more than three decades earlier. For inspiration, Brooke had used a French translation of an even earlier Italian tale, also based on the characters of Romeo and Juliet, so English audiences who saw Shakespeare's version were familiar with the story. Brooke's poem and the translation he used have not stood the test of time the way Shakespeare's play has. In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare expanded the content and themes considered worthy of drama, making romance a legitimate subject for tragedy.

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