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Shakespeare’s primary source for Romeo and Juliet was a poem by Arthur Brooke called The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet, written in 1562. He also could have known the popular tale of Romeo and Juliet from a collection by William Painter, entitled The Palace of Pleasure, which was written sometime before 1580.

Shakespeare also likely read the three sources on which Brooke’s poem and Painter’s story were based — namely, Giulietta e Romeo, a novella by the Italian author Matteo Bandello, written in 1554; a story in a collection called Il Novellio, by the widely-popular fifteenth-century writer Masuccio Salernitano; and the Historia Novellamente Ritrovata di Due Nobili Amanti or A Story Newly Found of two Noble Lovers, written by Luigi Da Porto and published in 1530.