Romeo and Juliet is an early tragedy by William Shakespeare about two teenage star-crossed lovers. It ends with their suicides, uniting rival households of a long-running family feud. The play has been highly praised by literary critics for its language and dramatic effect. Along with Hamlet, it is one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed plays and is considered by many to be the world's most iconic love story. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime.
Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to Ancient Greece. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1582. Brooke and Painter are Shakespeare's chief sources for Romeo and Juliet. He borrowed heavily from both, but developed minor characters, particularly Mercutio and Count Paris, in order to expand the plot. The play was probably written around 1595-6, and first published as a first quarto in 1597. The text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original text.