Much of Shakespeare's plays came from prior works.
- Hamlet took inspiration from Gesta Danorum, a twelfth-century work on Danish history by Saxo Grammaticus, consisting of sixteen Latin books.
- Holinshed’s Chronicles likely inspired Macbeth and King Lear.
- Parts of Antony and Cleopatra are copied verbatim from Plutarch’s Life of Mark Anthony.
- Romeo and Juliet was built upon the 1562 poem The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet from Arthur Booke.
However, if you take a look at any of the original texts, you will find them dry, unengaging, and lacking any sort of poetic language. So he took these texts and turned them into works of literary art.