The book that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
This rare book is thought to have inspired William Shakespeare when writing Romeo and Juliet and the State Library of New South Wales have just got their hands on a copy.
The 1564 book was written by an Italian writer Matteo Bandello and is so small it can fit in the palm of your hand. The book features a selection of short stories, one of which is an early version of Romeo and Juliet which was based on stories dating back as far as the 14th century.
Shakespeare is thought to have found his direct inspiration for the play in a poem by Arthur Brooke who had in fact based his poem on Bandello's story. The great playwright was the first to give the character the names Romeo and Juliet and made the play more 'scandalous' by reducing the age of Juliet from 18 to 14.
The book is currently on display at the State Library of New South Wales as part of the commemorations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.
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