Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition


or Brooke, ARTHUR (d. 1563), English author, wrote the first English version of the story of Romeo and Juliet. The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Julieit (1562) is a rhymed account of the story, taken, not directly from Bandello's collection of novels (1554), but from the French translation (Histoires tragiques) of Pierre Boaistuau or Boisteau, surnamed Launay, and François de Belleforest. Broke adds some detail to the story as told by Boisteau. As the poem contains many scenes which are not known to exist elsewhere, but which were adopted by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, there is no reasonable doubt that it may be regarded as the main source of the play. Broke perished by shipwreck in 1563, on his way from Newhaven to join the English troops fighting on the Huguenot side in France.

The genesis of the Juliet story, and a close comparison of Shakespeare's play with Broke's version, are to be found in a reprint of the poem and of William Paynter's prose translation from the Palace of Pleasure, edited by Mr P. A. Daniel for the New Shakespere Society (1875).