Sometimes life has gifts for fiction: a posy ring from Romeo and Juliet

Gold posy ring with inscription and maker’s mark. © The Trustees of the British Museum

I hesitate to use real life in fiction. Every author’s familiar with that moaning email in which a reader cites an instance in the story and says, ‘That could never happen in real life.’ We also know that the event concerned is often one taken straight from real life itself.

To support the theory that nothing is stranger than non-fiction I enter one piece of evidence only: the year 2016.

But sometimes it’s hard to resist. In this adaptation we have many scenes you will not find in Shakespeare. In one Paris, a fuller character here, makes a rather creepy and pathetic effort to win Juliet over in the Capulet garden. He’s not a man who’s good with words, at least not around women. But he has brought her a ring, one with a history I will leave to the story to explain.

The ring has an inscription inside, ‘I have obtained whom God ordained’. Not a sentiment likely to win the heart of an independent-minded young woman like Juliet.

As you can see from the exhibit from the British Museum above… I didn’t make this up. Posy rings like this, with little messages inside them, were once common. And that inscription was too.

A gift I could not refuse.

%d bloggers like this: