Romeo and Juliet
|Narrated By:||Sam Stinson|
|Date:||19 January 2009|
Romeo and Juliet is an early tragedy by William Shakespeare about two teenage star-cross'd lovers whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding households. The play has been highly praised by literary critics for its language and dramatic effect. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Its influence is still seen today, with the two main characters being widely represented as archetypal young lovers.
Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith. Some time between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. At age 49 around 1613, he appears to have retired to Stratford, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, which has stimulated considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. These speculations are often criticized for failing to point out the fact that few records survive of most commoners of his period.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories, which are regarded as some of the best work ever produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances and collaborated with other playwrights.
Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. However, in 1623 John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published a more definitive text known as the First Folio, a posthumous collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as "not of an age, but for all time".
In the 20th and 21st centuries, his works have been repeatedly adapted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.