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English : Romeo and Juliet : Shakespeare: Brooke's Romeus and Juliet

Arthur Brook's Biography

Arthur Brooke Biography:
Arthur Brooke (or Arthur Broke) (d. circa 1563) was an English poet, whose
only known work is The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet (1562).
The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet IS considered to be William
Shakespeare's chief source for his famous play Romeo and Juliet. Though
professedly a translation from the Italian of Bandello by way of a French
version, the poem by Brooke is a free paraphrase. In 1565, a prose version of
Romeo and Juliet (1567) was printed in the second volume of The Palace of
Pleasure, a collection of tales, the editor being William Painter, clerk of the
armoury to Queen Elizabeth shortly after she came to the throne. Many
critics consider Painter’s work inferior to Brooke’s poem, just as Brooke’s
poem is thought to be inferior to Shakespeare’s play. Little is known of
Arthur Brooke’s life except that he died by shipwreck while traveling to
Newhaven in (or before) the year 1563. Several years after his death, in
1567, George Turberville published a collection of poetry entitled, Epitaphs,
Epigrams, Songs and Sonnets, which included An Epitaph on the Death of
Master Arthur Brooke Drownde in Passing to New Haven. Source:

The Tragical History 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. Brooke is reported to have translated it from an Italian novella by Matteo Bandello; by another theory, it is mainly derived from a French adaptation of Bandello's novella which involves a man by the name of Reomeo Titensus and Juliet Bibleotet by Pierre Boaistuau, published by Richard Tottell. Source:

Brooke's Romeus and Juliet

The tragic plot of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1595-96) was by no means original. It was based on a famous folktale which appeared in many different versions in 15th- and 16th-century Europe. Arthur Brooke’s 3,020 line poem, The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet (1562), is the first English translation of that tale, and it served as a key source for Shakespeare.

Set in the ‘fruitfull hilles’ of Verona, Brooke’s poem describes the ‘deadly’ feud between two wealthy, noble families – Capulet and Montague. Against this backdrop of ‘blacke hate’, he tells the ‘unhappy’ tale of a beautiful youth, Romeus Montague, whose heart is entrapped by the wise and graceful Juliet Capulet. (pp. 1v–2r).

On the title page, Brooke claims to have based his work on Matteo Bandello’s Italian Novelle (1554), though he actually seems to have used a French translation by Boaistuau (1559). In his letter ‘To the Reader’, Brooke also says he had seen a similar tale ‘lately set foorth on stage’ (p. iiir), perhaps referring to an earlier play about Romeo and Juliet, which has not been discovered. Source:

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