1. Shakespeare was ‘pirated’ mercilessly by publishers most of whom did not seek his permission before publishing and selling his plays or sonnets. They changed them, dis-ordered them and tweaked them to make them more marketable, uncaring about the author’s intent. This is because they were so highly commercial (like romance fiction) and publishers wanted to milk them for everything they were worth. Romance authors have entire scenes removed or rewritten to suit overseas marketplaces and their books are amongst the most commonly pirated content online.
2. Shakespeare worked hard within the firm conventions of Elizabethan poetry to be innovative and fresh. Leaning the rules outward but respecting them. And respecting the audience’s expectations whilst also fulfilling their own creative needs as an artist. Romance writers need to do the same to write new, interesting stories within the limits of social convention.
3. Shakespeare’s characters were forever falling in and out of love but, ultimately, growing stronger because of it. Ditto romance characters.
4. Shakespeare’s sonnets are rich and emotional and communicate a massive emotional range, yet there is no evidence to suggest they were poems ‘from’ him to anyone else. Keep that in mind the next time someone asks you if all your romance stories are from your own experience.