Giovanni Boccaccio was a well-known Renaissance poet, novelist and humanist scholar. His works influenced many later writers, particularly Chaucer.
The Life of Boccaccio
1313 Giovanni Boccaccio, son of a Florentine merchant, is born near Florence, Italy.
1328 Sent to Naples to study business. Instead, he begins the study of literature. He moves in aristocratic society and has some association with the Angevin court. During this time, he also met and fell in love with "Fiammetta", a mysterious woman who may have been the king's daughter, Maria d'Aquino. She became his inspiration, much like Dante's Beatrice.
1336 Writes Il filocolo, a romance in prose.
1338 Writes Il filostrato, which is the source of Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.
1340 Returns to Florence.
1341 Finishes the epic Teseida, the probable inspiration for Chaucer's Knight's Tale.
1342 Writes Ameto, a pastoral romance in prose and terza rima.
1348 Is witness to the horrors of the Black Death in Florence, and is inspired to begin the Decameron, his most famous work.
1350 Begins to take on diplomatic missions for the municipality of Florence.
1351 Is sent to recall Petrarch from exile. The two poets become friends and colleagues in the study of humanism.
As a result of this interest, he wrote a vast encyclopedia of ancient mythology called De genealogiis deorum, as well as two other works, De casibus virorum illustrium ("On the fates of famous men") and De claris mulieribus ("On famous women"), which were great sources of material for writers in later years.
135? Completes the Decameron. (The date is variously given as 1351, 1353, or 1358.)
In its finished form, the Decameron is a collection of tales that Boccaccio assembled from various sources. The stories are told over ten days by ten young people (3 men and 7 women), who have escaped to the countryside from the plague in Florence. Each person tells one story each day, making 100 tales in all.
Chaucer is also said to have been influenced by the Decameron, and some of the stories in it are also found translated in The Palace of Pleasure by William Painter, one of which (Giletta of Narbonne), was used by Shakespeare for All's Well that Ends Well.
1355 Writes a biography of Dante Alighieri.
1373 Gives a series of lectures on the Divina Commedia.
1375 Dies in the city of Certaldo.
A Dictionary of Shakespeare
The Bloomsbury Dictionary of English Literature
The Macmillan Encyclopedia 2001
The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance