Shakespeare’s Narrative Sources: Italian Novellas and Their European Dissemination


Witness Description

The first volume, containing 60 tales, appeared in 1566 under the title of The palace of pleasure beautified, adorned and well furnished, with pleasaunt histories and excellent novelles, selected out of divers good and commendable authors. It was printed by H. Denham for R. Tottell and W. Jones. This volume was re-edited in 1569 (this time printed by Thomas Marshe) and, one last time, in 1575 when, in an improved edition, the author added seven new stories.

The second volume, The second Tome of the Palace of Pleasure, containing manifolde store of goodiy Histories, Tragicall matters and other Morall argument, very requisite for delight and profit. Chosen and selected out of divers good and commendable Authors, appeared in 1567 and was printed by H. Bynneman for Nicholas England. The dedicatory epistle to Sir George Howard (signature a.ii) is followed by a summary of the contents. There are 34 stories which end at fo. 426. The xxv Novel, “The goodly history of the true and constant love between RHOMEO and JULIETTA, the one of whom died of poison, and the other of sorrow and heaviness: wherein be comprised many adventures of love, and other devises touching the same”, is contained in this second volume of The Palace of Pleasure. A revised, undated, edition of this second tome, with an additional historic tale, was printed by Thomas Marshe probably around 1580 (see Daniel 1875, xix-xxi). It is in octavo format and it concludes at fo. 360 (signatures Aiii-yy4). The title page presents the initials of the printer (TM) and is followed by the general dedicatory epistle to Sir George Howard (“Knight, Maister of the Quenes Maiesties Armarye”), a preface to the reader, and the novellas.

This digital edition is based on the copy of the revised second tome of The Palace of Pleasure (Bib Name / Number: STC (2nd ed.) / 19125), of the Senate House, London. Although it is not considered to be a direct source to Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the novella was very likely consulted by the dramatist.