Tristan and Isolde is a tale made popular during the 12th century through French medieval poetry, inspired by Celtic legend and possibly the 11th century Persian story of Vis and Rāmin. It has become an influential romance and tragedy, retold in numerous media with many variations. The tragic story is a sympathetic treatment of an adulterous love between a Cornish knight and an Irish princess, and may share a source with the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere. In some versions, the exiled Tristan actually travels to Camelot and enters Arthur's service. While the details of the story differ from one version to another, the overall plot structure remains much the same. Some of the best known versions of the story were written by Gottfried von Strassburg, Sir Thomas Malory, and Richard Wagner.
Yseult and Tristan was a play by the English playwright Christopher Marlowe. Based on a French legend, it told the story of two medieval lovers whose affair is doomed from the start.
Marlowe wrote the play in part as an attempt to retake the mantle of London's greatest playwright from his friend and colleague William Shakespeare, whose Prince of Denmark was considered by many to have surpassed anything of Marlowe's. Although Marlowe did not succeed, Tristan was nevertheless considered better than any of Marlowe's own prior work.