“Thus with a kiss I die”… And that is how the whirlwind romance of two young lovers came to an end. It’s safe to say that only a handful of people on earth have no inkling about the tragic tale of the two star-crossed lovers in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The pair’s tragic fate inspired hundreds of plays, as well as film and TV adaptations, immortalizing Shakespeare’s work not only in literature but also on the big screen. Keep on reading to learn a load of facts about William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Fact 1: The hero and heroine of William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet” are the representative types of “star-crossed” lovers in Western literature, music, dance, and theater.
Fact 2: Their noble families, the Montagues, and the Capulets, are bitter enemies, which leads the young pair to their tragic fates.
Fact 3: Romeo and Juliet was written around the years of 1594–1596 and first published in an unauthorized quarto in 1597.
Fact 4: An authorized quarto of Romeo and Juliet appeared in 1599. It was substantially longer and more reliable than the unauthorized Quarto released in a year earlier in 1597.
Fact 5: The tragic tale about the two ill-fated lovers was written by William Shakespeare.
Fact 6: William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist.
Fact 7: The play has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical, and opera venues.
Fact 8: The play has been adapted in versions as diverse as George Cukor’s 1936 film “Romeo and Juliet”, Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version “Romeo and Juliet”, and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 MTV-inspired “Romeo + Juliet”.
Fact 9: The story’s heroine Juliet was just a thirteen-year-old girl when she fell in love with Romeo.
Fact 10: Shakespeare never gives Romeo a specific age. Although his age could be anywhere between 13–21, he is typically portrayed as being around the age of 16.
Fact 11: Shakespeare wasn’t the first person to make a reference to the “Montagues and Capulets”.In Dante’s early fourteenth-century masterpiece, the “Divine Comedy”, he makes reference to two warring Italian families: “Come and see, you who are negligent, / Montagues and Capulets, Monaldi and Filippeschi / One lot already grieving, the other in fear” (Purgatorio, canto VI).
Fact 12: The play’s original title was actually “The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet”.
Fact 13: Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet to explain the worst possible situation lovers can find themselves in. Romeo and Juliet are both from families that hate each other, they face the fact that Romeo killed Juliet’s cousin, and that they have known each other for less than a week.
Fact 14: The exact date of when Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet” is unknown.
Fact 15: In the story, Juliet’s nurse refers to an earthquake that occurred 11 years ago which could have been a reference to the Dover Straits earthquake of 1580, which would date that particular moment in the story to 1591.
Fact 16: In Sir William Davenant’s 1662 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a woman finally played the role of Juliet.
Fact 17: Mary Saunderson was the first woman to play the role of Juliet professionally.
Fact 18: The best-known ballet version of the play is Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”.
Fact 19: Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” ballet’s original happy ending (contrary to Shakespeare) provoked controversy among Soviet cultural officials.
Fact 20: At least 24 operas have been inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.
Fact 21: The earliest being a 1776 Singspiel by Georg Benda, who omitted much of the play’s action scenes and gave most of its characters a happy ending.
Fact 22: Romeo’s close friend, Mercutio may have been gay.
Fact 23: Scholars have speculated about Mercutio’s sexual and romantic attraction to Romeo. This idea was explored in Lurhmann’s 1996 film by making Mercutio a gay drag performer who seems to innocently pine for Romeo, despite his frustrations surrounding Romeo’s actions.
Fact 24: At the beginning of the play, Romeo’s love interest was not Juliet.
Fact 25: Romeo was in love with Rosaline. But when Romeo met Juliet at the ball, he was immediately enamored by the young Capulet.
Fact 26: Romeo and Juliet have only known each other for 24 hours when they decided to get married.
Fact 27: Romeo and Juliet’s whirlwind courtship is not simply a doomed journey through the head rush of adolescent romance. The terrible situation in Verona between the Montagues and the Capuletsgets was made even worse by something as supposedly stupid and simple as love.
Fact 28: The play was inspired by a poem by Arthur Brooke called “The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet”, written in 1562.
Fact 29: Shakespear could have also 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.
Fact 30: If the Bible is not included, Shakespeare is quoted more in the English language than any other writer.
Fact 31: Leonardo DeCaprio initially wasn’t a fan of Shakespeare’s work.
Fact 32: During an Access Hollywood interview, DeCaprio said, “I can’t say that I was neither here nor there with [Shakespeare]. All I knew was that, just like any other person my age, you hear Shakespeare, and you’re like, ’Oh god, those long-winded plays that you just don’t understand and have no clue about.’”
Fact 33: In the 1996 MTV-inspired adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet”, the star-crossed lovers were played by Leonardo Decaprio and Claire Danes.
Fact 34: The first scene Claire and Leo filmed together required them to be mostly naked in bed together. Claire called the awkward first scene “a way to break the ice.”
Fact 35: While filming the 1993 film “Romeo + Juliet” in Mexico, the movie’s main hairdresser was kidnapped and the production had to pay a $300 ransom.
Fact 36: Hairdresser, Aldo Signoretti, was taken but the kidnappers agreed to give him back if they were paid 300 US dollars. After getting paid, the kidnappers threw him out of their car and broke his leg.