Romeo and Juliet

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, written in the early 1590s after a series of histories and comedies. His audience already knew the story of the feuding Capulets and Montagues in Verona and the fate of the young lovers from their rival houses, but not how Shakespeare would tell it and, with his poetry and plotting, he created a work so powerful and timeless that his play has shaped the way we talk of love, especially young love, ever since.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Helen Hackett 3 episodes
    Professor of English Literature at University College London
  • Paul Prescott No other episodes
    Professor of English and Theatre at the University of California Merced
  • Emma Smith 6 episodes
    Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Romeo and Juliet: Language and Writing
    Catherine Belsey (Bloomsbury, 2014) Google Books →
  • The Elizabethan Mind: Searching for the Self in an Age of Uncertainty
    Helen Hackett (Yale University Press, 2022) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare in Production: Romeo and Juliet
    James N. Loehlin (Cambridge University Press, 2002) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy
    Claire McEachern (ed) (Cambridge University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Romeo and Juliet: Arden Performance Editions
    Paul Menzer (ed) (Bloomsbury, 2017)
  • William Shakespeare: 'Romeo and Juliet', Writers and Their Work
    Sasha Roberts (Northcote House/British Council, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Shakespeare Handbooks: Romeo and Juliet
    Ed Rocklin (Red Globe Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Romeo and Juliet
    William Shakespeare (ed. Rene Weis) (Bloomsbury, 2012) Google Books →
  • Romeo and Juliet: Folger Shakespeare Library
    William Shakespeare (eds. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine) (Simon & Schuster, 2011) Google Books →
  • This Is Shakespeare: How to Read the World's Greatest Playwright
    Emma Smith (Pelican, 2019) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare and World Cinema
    Mark Thornton Burnett (Cambridge University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Shakespeare's Tragedies: A Very Short Introduction
    Stanley Wells (Oxford University Press, 2017) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0014gml

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Auto-category: 822.33 (Shakespeare’s plays)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Romeo and Juliet marked a turning point in Shakespeare's career, a move from history and comedy towards tragedy, although it contains all three.