Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young Italian star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet , is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers. Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but expanded the plot by developing a number of supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between and , the play was first published in a quarto version in The text of the first quarto version was of poor quality, however, and later editions corrected the text to conform more closely with Shakespeare's original.
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