Nobody knows how Shakespeare began to write, or when he entered the theatre. But we know he became a leading member of the theatre troupe known as 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men'. The company proved very popular, and later, when King James I granted it the right to perform at his court, became known as 'The King's Men'.
Shakespeare wrote more than 30 plays for 'The King's Men', making it the most important theatre company in the country. He often wrote parts for particular actors, too.
He was very successful and wealthy in his time, and his work has remained very popular ever since.
The basic story, of two young lovers from opposing families in Italy, had been popular for hundreds of years before Shakespeare wrote the play. However, there is no evidence Romeo or Juliet ever actually existed. We think Shakespeare based the play on a poem he had read.
What makes Romeo and Juliet special is how Shakespeare tells the story. It has become perhaps his best-known play. Romeo and Juliet has been filmed many times and adapted in all sorts of ways. For instance, there are cartoon versions for children, older versions with the rude