What exactly happened when Romeo and Juliet, the world's most famous lovers, met for the first time? We know that the young couple met one evening in July and declared their love for each other immediately. We know that they married the next day and shortly afterwards proved that they were willing to die for one another. But why Romeo, wherefore Juliet? Juliet found Romeo irresistible, yet he was recently rejected out of hand by her cousin Rosaline. Juliet herself was a beautiful young woman, but 'all the admired beauties of Verona' were also present at the banquet where they met. What made Juliet, rather than any other woman present, so special in Romeo's eyes?
Shakespeare hints at many answers to such questions in the text of the play. In this book those hints are expanded and augmented by comments from some two hundred other writers, poets and the occasional scientist. Justifiable speculation allows more than 160 factors that contributed to their mutual passion to be identified and discussed.
When Romeo Met Juliet is meant to lead to a deeper understanding of Shakespeare's play, but it aims to do more than that. Using the Romeo-Juliet experience as a case study, it attempts to throw light on the mystery of human attraction that we know as 'falling in love.' For a privileged few, it is 'love at first sight.' That, Juliet suggests, is like being struck by lightning, but we suspect that it is how love should be.
LESLIE DUNKLING was born in west London in 1935. As a mature student he qualified as a teacher in 1961, then gained a B.A. (Hons) degree in English at University College London. This was followed by an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Stockholm, Sweden, where he taught English language and literature. He subsequently became a producer of educational radio and television programmes for the BBC, remaining there for 20 years.
In 1970 he developed a spare time interest in onomatology, the study of proper names. He was co-founder of the Names Society and for many years was its president. He also published several reference books about names of various kinds.
He has lived since 1971 in Thames Ditton, Surrey, with his French wife, Nicole. Their three adult children and families live nearby.